A City Yet to Come

Today is Friday, the third of December, 2021. First Friday of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,276

Twenty-two days until Christmas

Yesterday, of course, was a bittersweet day. I was fine, emotionally, until it came time to sing the two songs at the service. I made it through “The Old Rugged Cross,” pretty well, only stumbling at the line, “then He’ll call me, someday, to my home far away.” But the second song I decided to sing was “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. It’s a great song for a setting like that. I was blindsided by emotions when I got to the chorus.

And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles’ wings
Before my God fall on my knees
And rise, I will rise

I recovered, though, and made it through the song, with only one more “glitch” in the bridge. As I walked back to where C and S were sitting, in the family section of the room, I dared not look up to make eye contact with any of my cousins. And, of course, the emotions were driven by memories of my own father, as well.

We had a good trip home, but it seemed to take a lot longer than the trip out there. Of course, we hit Dallas at rush hour, and we stopped along the way to refuel and take a restroom break.

C is at the office today, rather than working from home, and I’ll be heading in to work my Friday shift at the library, in the computer/media center. It’s been three weeks since I’ve been in there. I hope I remember how everything works.

I’m off tomorrow, so I’ll have a few more days to recuperate from this week.

I’m currently reading The Black Echo, by Michael Connelly. It’s his first novel, from 1992. I had seen quite a few of his books during my shelving nights at the library. We have a large number of his, in both regular and large print. It wasn’t until I realized that he was the author responsible for Harry Bosch that I became interested in reading them. I am really enjoying this one, so I will, no doubt, continue in the series. I haven’t given up on The Divine Embrace. It’s still in the wings, and I will continue reading it, when I take the time to sit and take notes as I read it.

Be right back . . . I need a second cup of coffee.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Becoming Who We Are, by Daryl Madden

The journey of our life
Of inner and afar
That all paths lead unto
Becoming who you are

Acknowledging the truth
A pride-filled sinner be
Blessed be the finding
Of the One who saves me

That we find emptiness
When this world, we purse
That only gifts beyond
Are treasures of value

In telling of our story
With humility
In sharing of our gifts
Our true purpose, be

We are made complete
Even though we’re flawed
Because we’re a beloved
Child of our God

“We are made complete, even though we’re flawed, because we’re a beloved Child of our God.” This reminds me of a Mercy Me song that I really like.

"No matter the bumps
No matter the bruises
No matter the scars
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless
No matter the hurt
Or how deep the wound is
No matter the pain
Still the truth is
The cross has made
The cross has made you flawless"

Please check out more of Daryl’s poetry in the link provided above.

In this the love of God was made manifest among us,
 that God sent his only Son into the world,
 so that we might live through him. 
In this is love, 
not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 
(1 John 4:9-10 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, because of Your grace, and the cross of Christ, I am made complete, in spite of my flaws
2. for Your great love, that never fails and never ceases
3. for a safe trip home, last night
4. for loving memories of family
5. for "the city that is to come" (Hebrews 13:14)

Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, 
and the young men and the old shall be merry. 
I will turn their mourning into joy; 
I will comfort them, 
and give them gladness for sorrow. 
(Jeremiah 31:13 ESV)
But, as it is written, 
"What no eye has seen, 
nor ear heard, 
nor the heart of man imagined, 
what God has prepared for those who love him"— 
these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. 
For the Spirit searches everything, 
even the depths of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10 ESV)
For here we have no lasting city, 
but we seek the city that is to come.
(Hebrews 13:14 ESV)

What beautiful words are in these Scriptures, and how appropriate for them to come up today. God will turn our mourning into joy, and we will rejoice in Him with dancing and singing. Truly, no eye has seen, nor has any ear heard (not among the living, at least) the things that God has prepared for us who love Him. And this place in which we live? It is, truly, “no lasting city.” I, along with you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, “seek the city that is to come.”


You are my friends if you do what I command you. 
No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 
(John 15:14-16 ESV)
. . . and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, 
according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 
far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 
(Ephesians 1:19-21 ESV)
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 
so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 
giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 ESV)
Jesus Christ is the same 
yesterday 
and today 
and forever. 
(Hebrews 13:8 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY SIX

INVITATION

With all my heart, 
I am waiting, 
LORD, for you! 
I trust your promises. 
(Psalms 130:5 CEV)

I pause, during this quiet moment, to meditate on these truths that have already been presented. I am waiting on You, Lord! I am waiting on and looking forward to that city that is yet to come.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents. 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, 
we were like those who dreamed. 
Our mouths were filled with laughter, 
our tongues with songs of joy. 
Then it was said among the nations, 
"The LORD has done great things for them." 
The LORD has done great things for us, 
and we are filled with joy. 
Restore our fortunes, LORD, 
like streams in the Negev. 
Those who sow with tears 
will reap with songs of joy. 
Those who go out weeping, 
carrying seed to sow, 
will return with songs of joy, 
carrying sheaves with them. 
(Psalms 126:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, giving them my full attention. Do I find something within about which I wish to ask God? I pray my life to Him, resting in His presence.

Father, my family has experienced sorrow, this past week, yet we have also known Your joy. The truth of these promises, that those who go out weeping will return with songs of joy, has been realized, in real time, in our lives. There will still be sorrow, yes, but as was so aptly pointed out in yesterday’s funeral message, we have hope because of Jesus and His work in our lives. It is because of Him, whom we both celebrate, during this season, and for whom we await as we look forward to His return, that we have this joy.

I also find hope in these words as I ponder the potential of restoration for everything that is broken or flawed, in this creation. The poem and song, earlier on in this blog, have reminded me of the truth that everything that is flawed or broken will be fixed, made whole, and restored. And it is when these things become reality that our true joy will be made manifest. The joy we experience today, as great as it is, is still incomplete. It is incomplete because we are still dwelling in “jars of clay,” bodies of sin, this “mortal coil.” We long to shed this mortal coil and be done with it. We long to be done with this body of sin, with these temptations and sorrows. Oh, come, Lord Jesus and restore everything to its true reality!

Awaken us from our slumber! Make us aware that the time of our “salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Oh, praise, that the “night is nearly over.” Help us to put aside all deeds of darkness and put on the “armor of light.” May we fully clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus and His righteousness!

I pray, Father, for relief and justice for all who are living in poverty and injustice. Give us, O Lord, both the willingness and the capacity to suffer with others, and give relief to the refugees, Lord!

"Sovereign God,
on the coming judgment day the book on my life will be opened and a verdict will be given.
Knowing that every idle work,
every well-guarded secret and shadowed hypocrisy will be uncovered makes me want to run for cover.
Remind me that just as You gave Adam and Eve garments to cover their shame,
You dress me up in Christ-clothes that I might stand before You.
Amen."

BLESSING

The one who has spoken these things says,
 "I am coming soon!" 
So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!
 I pray that the Lord Jesus will be kind to all of you. 
(Revelation 22:20-21 CEV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends!

Are You Ready?

Good morning. Today is Monday, the twenty-ninth of November, 2021. First Monday of Advent.

Day 23,272

Twenty-six days until Christmas.

I have received unpleasant news, this morning, news which will have an impact on Christmas and Thanksgiving celebrations for years to come. My Uncle “Buddy,” Robert Vinson, has passed away, this morning. He was my mother’s twin brother. At this point, I don’t know of any arrangements, but there will likely be a funeral later this week, which may mean that I miss a day at the library. Unless they decide on Saturday.

Brother Daryl Madden has shared a couple of poems with me, this morning. You who are regular readers are familiar with him and his inspirational/comforting poetry. Here are a couple which he has shared with me today.

Still You

Still raw is your passing

You’re in a better place
Your hope in gift of faith
Is answered by His grace

Still here is our sorrow

In random burst of tears
Drifting in our loss
Your emptiness felt here

Still in life’s reflection

The love to us you shared
We see your shadow cast
In many ways, you cared

Still we walk our path

With joy and sorrow, feeling
In prayer, we’ll be with You
A new way you’ll be healing


Still we’ll remember you

Etched within our heart
For now, your closer still
Through love that you’ll impart

Death is Nothing

Death is nothing. Nothing at all

It does not count. There is no wall

I’ve only slipped. In the room next

Nothing’s happened. Be not perplexed

As is the same. As was it be

You are you. And I am me

The old life lived. Together in love

Remains untouched. Unchanged above

Whatever we were. To each other

That we are still. And not another

Why should I be. Out of your mind
Just because. The eye is blind


As I am. I wait for you

So very near. Round corners view

All is well. Nothing is hurt

Nothing is lost. This truth assert

In moment brief. And all will be

As was before. Our joy to see

How we shall laugh. In embrace so sweet

When very soon. Again we’ll meet!

Thank you so much, Daryl!

We had a nice, restful day, yesterday. I spent about an hour at a local tire shop, though, getting tires rotated and air pressure checked. What prompted that was when the tire pressure light came on in my car, on the way back from Mineral Wells, Thursday evening. I checked the pressure on Friday, during the day, and all the tires had about the same pressure. The two fronts were exactly the same, and the two rears were almost exactly the same. This indicated that I likely didn’t have a leak.

I was planning to take care of it Saturday evening, after work, but it was raining, so I decided, since my car was long overdue for tire rotation, to take it to the tire shop that is open on Sundays and have them take care of it. So for $15, I got a tire rotation and all four tires checked and aired up.

Most of today will be spent getting caught up on various chores, such as laundry and grocery shopping and sweeping the floor. It’s good to be back to a regular schedule.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Catch A Breath, by Daryl Madden

Before our day begins
Time to start performing
Take a step outside and
Catch a breath of morning

For a seed of beauty
A gift of the spawning
To dwell within the light
Catch a glimpse of dawning

Let it settle in
Worldly time to cease
In silence of the soul
Draw a taste of peace

Know that loves abounding
Blessings our God shares
With gratitude to offer
A whisper of prayer

Please check out Daryl’s other inspirational poems at the link above.

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the hope that comes in waiting for You
2. for many good memories with my uncle
3. that Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path
4. that I am one of the sheep of Your pasture, that You have made me, and I am Yours
5. that You are making us ready; may we walk in the hope and expectation that You have granted us

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
(Psalms 119:105 ESV)

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'”

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.
For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:1-15 ESV)

You might wonder why we are reading the account of the fall of man during our Advent celebration. It all comes down to verse 15, where we get the first glimpse of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. The first glimmer of hope, the one who would “bruise the head” of our enemy. Jesus will come and undo the work of Satan, but not without great cost. Therein lies our hope, and hope is one of the central messages of Advent.

I thank You, God, that You are generous and the giver of all good things. I thank You that You have always had a plan for us and for the world, that You revealed this plan to us through Your prophets, and that this plan finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.



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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY TWO

INVITATION

I am counting on the LORD;
yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word.
(Psalms 130:5 NLT)

As I pause in the quiet, this morning, I am pondering life, itself, and its brevity. Eighty-three years may seem like a long time, but my sixty-three seems so very brief, as I look back. Life is fragile, but we have hope in Christ Jesus, hope of life eternal. Sixty or eighty years is merely a grain of sand in comparison.

BIBLE SONG

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.
(Psalms 72:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
(Matthew 24:36-42 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that stir within me. I linger over them, meditating on them and giving them my full attention. Is there something for me to ask God about? I pray my life to Him, and rest in His presence.

Psalm 72 is one of those that, on the surface, appears to be about an earthly king. Solomon appears to be voicing a prayer/song for himself, in third person. However, I believe it is also valid to attribute this to Jesus, based on the language it contains.

We do want Jesus to judge His people in righteousness, and His afflicted ones with justice. We desire prosperity for His people. We hope for the defense of the afflicted, and that the children of the needy will be saved. We also pray for all oppressors to be crushed. We believe that Jesus will endure longer than the sun and moon and all the stars, beyond all generations.

But then we shift gears a little bit, as the passage from Matthew 24 concerns the second coming of Jesus. We know this, because it is Jesus, Himself, voicing the words.

We hear that no one knows the hour or the day that Jesus will return. In fact, it would appear that even Jesus, Himself, does not know, but only the Father knows. We read that life will be going on, business as usual, when the Son appears. Just like in the days of Noah, the people “knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away.” And, He says, this is exactly how His second coming will be.

That is somewhat unnerving, I think. We won’t see it coming until it does. So all of this guessing and predicting, all of the books that have been written, trying to predict when it will happen, all useless. I find it interesting and enlightening that, even though Jesus gives all these signs before He says that, He still, at the end says that no one will know when it’s going to happen.

His main advice? “Keep watch.” “Be ready.” We get the same advice from Luke 12:40.

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
(Luke 12:40 NIV)

Father, help us to be ready. And while we are getting ready, may we not focus on the things that we cannot know. May we not waste time and energy trying to figure out what Jesus, Himself, doesn’t even know! Just let us be ready. What does being ready mean? It means simply keeping watch. Yes, Jesus gives us signs, and we can watch for them. But trying to predict when it’s going to happen is pointless. May our eyes be fixed on You; may our attention be on Your Word and on those who need it; may we focus on doing the things that Psalm 72 prays that Jesus, our King, will do, which is helping in the deliverance of the needy and afflicted, and crushing the oppressors.

Help us to see You in all things, as we walk in Your creation, and as we look around us.

I thank You for the life of my Uncle Buddy. I pray for my mother, Aunt Barbara, and for Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, my cousins. I also pray for their children and grandchildren, as they all grieve the loss of husband, brother, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.

"Coming Savior,
You are the Word,
the wisdom,
and the very image of the Father.
Ready my ears to hear Your word of truth,
my heart to learn the ways of Your wisdom,
and my eyes to see the beauty of Your likeness.
Amen."

BLESSING

He who is the faithful witness
to all these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon!”
Amen!
Come, Lord Jesus!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NLT)


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.

Hope

Good morning! Today is Sunday, the twenty-eighth of November, 2021. The first Sunday of Advent.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,271

Twenty-seven days until Christmas!

It was a rainy, chilly evening, yesterday. We still haven’t put the ornaments on our Christmas tree, yet, but we may do that tonight. That depends, to some degree, on how S feels, later today. She is a bit “under the weather” (whatever that means) because she got a flu shot AND a Covid-19 booster on Friday. I probably would not have chosen to do both of those on the same day, myself. But she had a little fever during the night last night.

It was a pretty quiet day at the library, yesterday. It was busy enough, but nowhere close to a typical Saturday. However, several other library staff folks opined that it was pretty busy for a Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Today, our church gathering will be via Zoom. I anticipate that, afterward, we will resume our traditional Sunday lunch from Applebee’s.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Two Truths of Advent, by Dayl Madden

Come listen beloved
Two truths be aware
The birth of our Lord and
His return drawing near

The first is the answer
For the second, prepare
His incarnate dwelling
Be within you here

A time of waiting
Of joy to share
Of anticipating
The Word to appear

In this Advent season
Let our way be clear
Not to the store
But one body in prayer

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for my faith, which is Your gift to me
2. for the peace in my soul, this morning
3. for the joy that is in my soul, as well
4. for Your very great and precious promises, and the anticipation of their fulfillments
5. for hope, without which we no reason to live

The plans of the heart belong to man,
but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.
(Proverbs 16:1 ESV)

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God,
Everlasting Father,
Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6 ESV)

And the angel said to them,
Fear not,
for behold,
I bring you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people.”
(Luke 2:10 ESV)

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

Born thy people to deliver,
born a child and yet a King,
born to reign in us forever,
now thy gracious kingdom bring.
By thine own eternal spirit
rule in all our hearts alone;
by thine all sufficient merit,
raise us to thy glorious throne.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. I used to think that this was solely looking forward to the celebration of the coming of Jesus, as a baby, which we, of course, celebrate on December 25 each year. But there’s more to it. We are also, in celebrating Advent, which means “coming” or “arrival,” looking forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. At His second coming, He will “return to renew and redeem every part of fallen creation.” (Timothy and Kathy Keller)


The LORD is God,
and he has made his
light
to shine upon us.
Bind the festal sacrifice with cords,
up to the horns of the altar!
(Psalms 118:27 ESV)

But far be it from me to boast
except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by which the world has been crucified to me,
and I to the world.
(Galatians 6:14 ESV)


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

WEEK ONE OF ADVENT – DAY ONE – FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT

INVITATION

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

During this quiet moment, I reflect upon the promises of God and anticipate their fulfillment. I remember, and I rejoice.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

In you, LORD my God,
I put my trust.

I trust in you;
do not let me be put to shame,
nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you
will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
who are treacherous without cause.

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.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth
and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
for you, LORD, are good.
(Psalms 25:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The LORD Our Righteous Savior.'”
(Jeremiah 33:14-16 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I slowly read these passages again, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart. I slowly repeat them, praying my thoughts, desires, needs, and feelings to the Lord, enjoying the presence of my Lord and Savior.

I see several words in Psalm 25, and most of them are related. In verses 4 and 5, I see the words “show,” “teach,” “guide,” and then “teach,” again. Those verbs all point to the words “ways,” “paths,” and “truth,” which are also related, in this context. The Lord’s ways, paths, and truth all mean, essentially, the same thing. And because of all of these, the psalmist finds that his “hope” is in the Lord, “all day long.”

My life verse, Psalm 86:11, makes a similar request of God.

Teach me your way,
O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart
to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

As I meditate and ponder these verses, it occurs to me that these prayers, from Psalms, may also apply to Jesus Christ. After all, He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. So if I am asking God to show me His Way, or teach me His Path, and guide me in His Truth, Jesus is the answer to all of those.

And He is the “righteous Branch” of which Jeremiah speaks. He will, as stated, “execute justice and righteousness in the land.” This, I believe, leads us toward hope in the second coming.

Father, as we enter into this Advent season, may we ponder all truth as it relates to our hope in Christ, both as we remember and celebrate His coming as Your Son, and as we anticipate the fulfillment of the promises regarding His return to set everything right. I pray that our varying opinions on what that means, “setting everything right,” will be unified, eventually. For myself, I am ready for whatever it means, because it means I will be with Him for eternity. It also means that all the things about which I am wrong (because I’m sure there are many) will be made clear and plain. I echo the psalmist’s prayers, though: Show me Your ways, teach me Your paths; guide me in Your truth. Unite my divided heart that I might fear Your name, and increase my hope in You.

May we all experience true fellowship with our coming Savior, as well as spiritual renewal and refreshment.

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.

"Living God,
I confess the slant of my heart to hate You and my neighbor.
But that sounds so harsh -
I'm not that bad, am I God?
Yet if I am brutally honest I see that I'm in deeper than I dare admit,
unless I am born again by Your Spirit.
Fill me with the greater hope this Advent season that in Christ's love I am on my way to new life.
In the Savior's name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Yes, I am coming soon.”
Amen.

Come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of the Lord Jesus
be with God’s people. Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 NIV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

Praise the Lord

Good morning. Today is Saturday, the twenty-seventh of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,270

We had a very nice day, yesterday, with C’s family. There was way too much food, of course, and plenty of leftovers. We’ll be eating ham for a while. I suspect the green bean and corn casseroles, as well as the desserts, will all be gone by the end of today, though.

I got some good news in email. All of my gifts for my Secret Santa person should be in hand by the end of Tuesday. Also, I believe my gift for the library’s Christmas lunch gift exchange should arrive Monday.

Today is a scheduled work day for me, and I have to be there in an hour and twenty minutes, so I’d best get busy with what is important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Isn’t It?, by Daryl Madden

Isn’t it exhausting?
Life just seems too hard
Keeping up appearance
Living the façade

Isn’t is confusing?
No matter how I try
Being who I’m not
Living of a lie

Isn’t it so stressful?
Worries everywhere
Of all that could go wrong
Living here in fear

Isn’t it so freeing?
When our lifes outpoured
Being who God made me
Living for the Lord

Please check out Daryl’s other poetry at his blog site, linked above.

“Ask,
and it will be given to you;
seek,
and you will find;
knock,
and it will be opened to you.”
(Matthew 7:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for grapes
2. for good food and fellowship with family
3. for promises of answered prayer
4. that You are a God of restoration
5. for the many ways we have to praise You

“I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.
“You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-27 ESV)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
(Luke 4:18-19 ESV)


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Be still,
and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 WEB)

As I meditate in this quiet moment, I consider that Jesus came to liberate the captives, give sight to the blind, liberate the oppressed, and proclaim the Lord’s favor. As I continue reading His Word, these thoughts will be in focus.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 150:1-6 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
This is what the LORD Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the LORD. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the LORD Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.”
(Haggai 1:5-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in God’s presence, I read these passages again, noticing how He might be speaking to me through His Word. I allow my heart to respond to Him in prayer and meditation, and take refreshment in His presence.

The obvious word in Psalm 150 is “praise.” It occurs (if I am counting correctly) thirteen times in the psalm. All of the main questions are answered.

Who is praised? The Lord. Yahweh. Creator of the universe.
Where? In His sacred place; in His mighty heavens.
Why, or for what? His mighty acts of power, His surpassing greatness.
How? With sounds of trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipes, and cymbals. With activities or movement of dancing. 
Who is praising? Everything that has breath!

I think it is fitting that the Psalms end with the simple injunction to “praise the LORD.”

The thing that stands out to me in the Haggai passage is a phrase that is repeated in verses 5 and 7. “Give careful thought to your ways.” I can’t speak for anyone else (we all try, at times, though, don’t we?), but I am guilty of not doing that enough. “Give careful thought to your ways,” says the Lord, through the prophet Haggai.

To the people of Israel, He takes note that they plant, but harvest little. They eat, but are not filled. They put on clothes, but aren’t warm. They earn wages, but their purses or pockets seem to have holes in them. In other words, they never have enough.

Now, I don’t know if this is saying that they literally don’t have enough, or if they are a lot like our modern Western culture, where we can’t seem to be satisfied with what we have. I suspect that it may be a subtle combination of the two, but I can’t verify that.

At any rate, they are given the answer in the rest of the passage. The second time they are told to consider their ways, the house of the Lord is brought up. It seems that everyone is occupied with their own “houses,” while the Lord’s “house” remains in ruins.

This is very thought-provoking for me. Because, while I know and acknowledge, readily, that this passage is explicitly directed to Israel, I can see correlation in today’s Church. We get caught up in our own “houses,” or own lives, even our own families, which are, of course, important. But not more important than our relationship, or “house,” with the Lord.

We don’t have a physical “temple,” to which we are to travel, today. The individual person is the “temple of the Holy Spirit,” as His Spirit resides and dwells in each of us. We are the “Church.” It is not a physical “house.” I don’t think that means we are supposed to spend extraordinary energy and time keeping our bodies fit, either.

This is about “soul keeping.” We need to make sure that we are keeping the Lord’s “house,” our souls, in good shape.

And one of the best ways to do that, in my opinion, is to practice what Psalm 150 teaches us.

Praise the Lord.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I will praise You for no other reason (though I have plenty) than that You are God. I will praise You for Your mighty acts of power, too. I will praise You for Your surpassing greatness, Your most excellent righteousness. And in praising You, I shove aside selfish platitudes and thoughts; I shut out selfish needs concerning my own “house.” I tend to Your “house,” which is my soul, because my soul needs tending and keeping. Thank You for the reminders from Your Word, reminders of how important this upkeep of our souls is. Help me to stay focused on what is important to You.

I pray for Your Church to flourish all over the world. I pray that we would engage in worship that glorifies You and “gathers, unites, and blesses” Your people.

"Generous God,
my way with money is a sure sign of my heart's trust.
and when it's mostly spent on me,
I show that my heart does not belong to You.
Center me again on You,
the source of everything good;
remind me of how rich I am because of Jesus and free up a generous heart for others.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is a person who endures temptation,
for when he has been approved,
he will receive the crown of life,
which the Lord promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 WEB)

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.

Known By God

Good morning. Today is Wednesday, the twenty-fourth of November.

May the peace of God reign in your life today.

Day 23,267

Thanksgiving is tomorrow!

We got the outside lights up, yesterday. And of course, one of them is already not lighting up. It’s possible it is just a bit loose in the connector. That happens sometimes, especially with a brand new set. We might have a chance to get the ladder back out, later today, and try to fix it. Of course, as well, it is the next to the top light on the house.

I finished a game on my PC, last night, after work. I got home from the library, cooked some eggs and toast for a quick dinner, and sat down to play Cyberpunk 2077. I knew I was close to the end, because, in a recent session, I reached one of those points where you get a warning asking if you’re sure you want to keep going, because there’s not going back from this point. Sure enough, I completed the story line.

As the ending approached, there were multiple choices to be made. There were at least three different choices as to who I wanted to take with me for the final fight, and then, at the very end, there was a very important choice, as well. I like the ending that I got, but am aware that, similar to Fallout 4, there are multiple ending possibilities. Makes me want to play the final sequence again, making different choices, just to see what happens.

But not for now. According to the Steam app, I have put 265+ hours into the game. Time for something different. Hahaha!

Today, I’m working from 9:15-6:15. I’m off tomorrow and Friday, for Thanksgiving holiday. I would have been off tomorrow, anyway. However, I will be working from 1:00-5:00 next Thursday. The circulation manager asked me if I would work that shift, since I’m going to be short hours on that pay period, and she needs help with coverage that day, so I said, “sure!”

Oh. I forgot to mention that we have another cat in the house. We got this one from the Watauga shelter, and she is already two years old and spayed, so we don’t have to worry about that. She is a tabby who looks a lot like S’s cat, Honey. We have decided that she will be called Magnolia. We will probably call her Maggie or Mags, for short.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

What Is A Blessing?, by Daryl Madden

What is a blessing?
But a share of
A taste of heaven
A gift of Gods’ love

Of nothing deserved
But one of pure grace
Let us receive it
With a grateful embrace

A treasure to cherish
Shared in many ways
If we are aware
We will be amazed!

Just a reminder
Of this message true
As a child of God
You’re a blessing too!
LUTHER'S MORNING PRAYER
In the name of the Father and of the Son 
and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I thank you, my heavenly Father, 
through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, 
that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; 
and I pray that You 
would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, 
that all my doings and life may please You. 
For into Your hands I commend myself, 
my body and soul, and all things. 
Let Your holy angel be with me, 
that the evil foe may have no power over me. 
Amen.

I will give to the LORD the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD, the Most High.
(Psalms 7:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for all my friends and family; you are, indeed, a blessing to me
2. that I am alive and breathing, and have awakened to another new day
3. for the Light of Jesus Christ in my life
4. that I can sing praises to You and make music on various instruments
5. that You know me, intimately, as You know the number of and the names of all the stars in the heavens

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
(Luke 2:52 ESV)

For though by this time you ought to be teachers,
you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God.
You need milk,
not solid food,
for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness,
since he is a child.
But solid food is for the mature,
for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
(Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV)

Father, make me more like Jesus, increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with You and those around me. Make me mature in Your Word, living on the “solid food” that comes from constant immersion in it.

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake,
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven
and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lightning,
and his clothing white as snow.
And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men.
But the angel said to the women,
Do not be afraid,
for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
He is not here,
for he has risen,
as he said.
Come, see the place where he lay.
(Matthew 28:1-6 ESV)

“Awake,
O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 ESV)

For you are all children of light,
children of the day.
We are not of the night or of the darkness.
(1 Thessalonians 5:5 ESV)

Father, may the Light of Christ shine on and through me, today.

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

“Step out of the traffic!
Take a long, loving look at me,
your High God,
above politics,
above everything.”
(Psalms 46:10 MSG)

As I pause during this quiet morning, I am struck by the Light that is Jesus Christ. My heart’s desire is to be “alive and awake,” shining brightly, in this world of darkness, with the Light of Jesus. I stop to take a long, loving, look at my Father, who is present with me, at all times.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

How good it is to sing praises to our God,
how pleasant and fitting to praise him!

The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
he gathers the exiles of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
He determines the number of the stars
and calls them each by name.
Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
his understanding has no limit.
The LORD sustains the humble
but casts the wicked to the ground.

Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.
(Psalms 147:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”
But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the LORD.
Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up. All the sailors were afraid and each cried out to his own god. And they threw the cargo into the sea to lighten the ship.
But Jonah had gone below deck, where he lay down and fell into a deep sleep. The captain went to him and said, “How can you sleep? Get up and call on your god! Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish.”
(Jonah 1:1-6 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I leisurely read these passages again, I look for words or ideas that have stirred within me. I linger over them, giving them my attention. Is there something within about which I need to ask God? I pray my life to my Father and rest in His presence.

Do you know how many stars there are? Does anyone? God not only knows the number of stars, He “determines the number of stars and calls them each by name.” Yes, I do realize that this is poetry, not theology. But it gives us insight into the infinite wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of our God. “His understanding has no limit.”

If He knows every star and calls it by name, how much more does He know each of us? God Almighty, the Creator of everything that we can see and much that we cannot see, condescends to know us. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows everything that I am going to do and say today. He knows what I am going to think.

Yet, still He loves me. He remembers that we are only dust.

This causes me to do what Psalm 147:7 tells me to do. “Sing to the LORD with grateful praise; make music to our God on the harp.” I don’t have a harp, but I have instruments, and I can use them to make music to God. I also have a voice, with which I can sing praises to Him.

Father, I praise You for Your knowledge of us! You, who created everything, have made Yourself known to us, just as You know us. Someday, when we see You, face to face (as much as will be possible), we will know You as intimately as You know us. But, for now, we cannot handle such knowledge; it is too wonderful, we cannot attain it. As I go through this day, may this knowledge carry me through all challenges that I might face. Give me Your wisdom and shine in me with the Light of Jesus Christ. May His light be visible in me. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

"Father,
never let Your salvation,
Your free choice of me,
make me lax or arrogant toward others.
Never let me forget that You've chosen me for both a special relationship as Your child and a special service,
becoming a channel of blessing for all.
In Christ's Name,
amen."

BLESSING

Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on
and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate.
For such persons loyally in love with God,
the reward is life and more life.
(James 1:12 MSG)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Great Disruptor

Today is Sunday, the twenty-first of November, 2021.

May the peace of God reign on your hearts today.

Day 23,264

Four days until Thanksgiving in the U.S.!

We had a lovely day, yesterday. We hung out at our Airbnb until almost noon, when we went to pick up R & J to go to Yats for lunch. Lunch was delicious, just as the dinner was Wednesday night.

We debated over what to do next. We finally decided to not visit the Children’s Museum, but, instead, to go to a Christmas Market in the Carmel district. It was slightly amusing to see the difference between the areas in the city. The Carmel area reminds me of Southlake in DFW.

The Christmas market was a lot of fun, and quite charming. It seems to have been designed around a German theme, and all of the booths appeared to have German names. I took some pictures, and will post some of them here.

The entry gate
J, R, C, and S
Beautiful carved decorations
Ice rink
Alpine horns. They really played these. It was beautiful!

It was a wonderful time. We bought way too many snacks, but we also got some Christmas ornaments to take home with us.

We went back to R’s house, where we watched some stuff, discussed (but didn’t solve) the problems in the country, and then ordered way too much food from the City BBQ. We had a wonderful “Thanksgiving” meal, full of love.

This morning, we plan to meet them back at Lincoln Square at 10:00 for breakfast, and then we must head back to the airport to go home. Mixed emotions, of course. Sad to leave R & J, but it will be nice to be back home. We have been quite busy for the last four days. It’s been wonderful, though.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When, by Daryl Madden

When light is laid
Upon the ground
When Spirit speaks
Without a sound

When gifts are blessed
Of treasure found
Of one to share
Is so profound

When God of love
Is always here
Found within
A simple prayer

When the response
Is clear to see
To simply dwell
For us to be

He alone is your God,
the only one who is worthy of your praise,
the one who has done these mighty miracles
that you have seen with your own eyes.
(Deuteronomy 10:21 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are my God, and that You alone are worthy of my praise
2. for a wonderful and safe trip (so far); please carry us safely home
3. for Jesus, the "disruptor"
4. that we can "be still and know" that You are God
5. that You are my fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge

And he told those who sold the pigeons,
“Take these things away;
do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”
His disciples remembered that it was written,
“Zeal for your house will consume me.”
(John 2:16-17 ESV)

Jesus said to him,
“I am the way,
and the truth,
and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you had known me,
you would have known my Father also.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 ESV)

Jesus was a disruptor. He stormed onto the scene and disrupted everything for the religious leaders of His day, providing a new way to approach the Father, who had been, up until that time, largely unapproachable.

“In Himself, He presented the kind of mega-gigabyte network that even our technology-obsessed world will never see. He was eradicating the spam, clearing out the detritus, and demonstrating a new way for us to ‘do’ faith.” (Thanks to Marci Alborghetti, in Daily Guideposts 2021)

Perhaps we have all gotten a little too comfortable in our faith and need to allow Jesus to disrupt us again.


So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights.
He neither ate bread nor drank water.
And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant,
the Ten Commandments.
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai,
with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain,
Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone
because he had been talking with God.
Aaron and all the people of Israel saw Moses,
and behold, the skin of his face shone,
and they were afraid to come near him.
But Moses called to them,
and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him,
and Moses talked with them.
(Exodus 34:28-31 ESV)

Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
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 96:1-3 ESV)

“Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,
if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
(Isaiah 58:5-11 ESV)

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
(Acts 1:8 ESV)

We find God on the mountaintops. We dwell with Him on a sort of “high,” during our devotional times. Many mornings, I have a sort of “mountaintop” experience. But the mission is down the mountain. We have to come down from the mountain.

“You have to go down the mountain. That’s where your ministry is . . . at the bottom of the mountain . . . where the cities are, and the towns, and their marketplaces, and the fields, and the rest of the world. That’s where they are, at the bottom of the mountain. So you have to go down. You have to bring down His love to the unloved. Bring down His blessings to the cursed, His riches to the poor, His presence to the godless, and His salvation to the lost.” (Jonathan Cahn, The Book of Mysteries)

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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY ONE – CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

INVITATION

He says,
“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psalms 46:10 NIV)

I pause during this quiet moment, to consider and be still. Help me to know that You are God; my heart desires that You be “exalted among the nations.”

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge,
who subdues peoples under me.

LORD, what are human beings that you care for them,
mere mortals that you think of them?
They are like a breath;
their days are like a fleeting shadow.
(Psalms 144:1-4 NIV)

I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
(Psalms 144:9-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
(Colossians 1:15-20 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, slowly, I look for words or phrases that catch my eye or move my heart, slowly repeating them, meditating on them. I pray my thoughts, my desires, my heart, and my life, to God, enjoying His presence.

In the psalm, I am noticing words (and this is common for me) such as fortress, stronghold, deliverer, shield, and refuge. God is all of these things to me. Other places in Psalms speak of running and hiding in these places.

But the truth stated by Jonathan Cahn, above, stands. I have to leave those places in order to minister. I cannot minister to those who are unloved, hungry, desolate, or poor, while hiding in the refuge or fortress that is my God. I cannot share my blessings while remaining on the mountaintop. I must come out of that fortress and come down from the mountaintop. And I do so with the confidence that my God will cover me and protect me while I do.

The Colossians passage speaks of the significance and importance of Christ. There may not be a more important passage in the New Testament, at least about this topic.

He is the image of God; all of the fullness of God dwells in Him. In Christ, “all things hold together.” And when I consider the phrase, “It’s all about Jesus,” it makes a lot more sense in the context of Colossians 1:15-20.

My life needs to be all about Jesus. As I consider this, going forward, I do not know what kinds of decisions will be made. But I must consider what Christ would have me do, in all circumstances. Not so much “WWJD,” but what would He want me to do? The consideration, the meditation, the pondering, and the praying will happen in the fortress, in the refuge, on the mountaintop. And when the direction is given, I must leave the solace of the mountaintop.

Jesus is the Great Disruptor. He does not allow our lives to remain static. When He appears, we must decide what to do with Him. He is either who He says He is, or He is a raving lunatic, or He is an outright liar. He cannot be simply “a good teacher.” He is the Son of God; He is God Incarnate; all of the fullness of God dwells within Him.

Father, I praise You for Jesus Christ, the Great Disruptor. May You be glorified in Him, throughout the earth. I pray for the knowledge of Christ to be spread through all the earth, and that all peoples will glorify Your Name. Help me to be a channel of blessing and honor for You in this world. In all I do, may You be glorified. Take me out of the refuge, out of the fortress, down from the mountain, to do Your will. Keep me from sin; purify me by Your grace and mercy. Help me to love You and love people in the way that I should.

I pray for full fellowship with Jesus Christ, King of kings. May You grant spiritual renewal and refreshment to Your people.

"King of kings and glorious Lord,
You are above all.
You rule,
and the whole universe is Your kingdom.
Have the supremacy in all things and draw more  and more to the freedom of Your reign.
Be first in my life,
now and always.
Amen."

BLESSING

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because,
having stood the test,
that person will receive the crown of life
that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
(James 1:12 NIV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

New

Today is Saturday, the thirteenth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,256

Four days until we fly to Indianapolis!

As usual, yesterday was a great day at the library. The computer center was not terribly busy, but had a few stretches where it was fairly busy. In the meantime, I had some good conversations with the manager, about various things.

Today, I work 9:30-6:15, in circulation. One piece of good news that we received, yesterday, is that the Hurst City Council approved the library to finally be “fine free.” This will be retroactive, as well as on-going. All existing fines will be forgiven, except those related to lost books. We will still charge patrons if they lose or destroy a book. But they will no longer be charged for overdue books. This is a trend that has been occurring nationwide, in recent years. Fort Worth went fine-free a number of years ago, and, most recently, the New York Public Library declared that it was now fine-free.

I suppose C had a nice birthday. She had to work, but was working from home. S and I gave her a small gift before I left for work, yesterday, along with our birthday cards, which she appreciated. During the day, C decided she did not want to go out after work, so I picked up Subway on the way home, so C did not have to cook pizza.

Today, C is still in bed, so good for her. It’s currently 7:25, and I have been up about an hour. I’m probably about to go get my second cup of coffee.

We’re scheduled to depart DFW to IND, next Wednesday morning, at 10:29. I need to pay closer attention. I thought we were leaving in the afternoon. Our return flight is Sunday afternoon at 2:22. That must be where I was getting the afternoon departure. Oddly, both flights have the same flight number. I don’t recall that ever happening before. I do hope that there are no delays/cancellations, as it is getting close to Thanksgiving. There are multiple reasons for planning this trip the week before Thanksgiving, though.

Speaking of Indianapolis, I’m taking my heavy coat. Weather forecast shows a low of 26 degrees on Friday morning. Brrr . . .

I’m still currently reading The Divine Embrace, by Robert E. Webber, and Humpty Dumpty, by Carolyn McCray and Ben Hopkin. I haven’t made much progress in The Divine Embrace, lately, but managed to get a few chapters of Humpty Dumpty read, yesterday. The plot is enjoyable, and the character development is growing on me.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of Being Real, by Daryl Madden

In Presence be
Of offered prayer
An entrance to
Surrender here

Take me deep
Deeper still
Past my thoughts
Beyond my will

To the place
Here to reveal
One of the soul
Of being real

To drift, to dwell
To simply be
Of grace and peace
In love with Thee

Such a beautiful prayer. “Take me deep, Deeper still . . .” Yes, Lord!

Rejoice always,
pray without ceasing,
give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus for you.
(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for weather that actually feels like Autumn
2. for my coffee
3. for a good night's rest
4. the preview of the "new heavens" and "new earth" given in Isaiah 65
5. for the hope of the end of all violence, oppression, and injustice

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28 WEB)

As I briefly pause, this morning, the entire house is quiet. In this peaceful moment, I consider the command to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. It is declared to be God’s will. Not to be thankful for all circumstances, but to be thankful in them. Big difference.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say;
“they have greatly oppressed me from my youth,
but they have not gained the victory over me.
Plowmen have plowed my back
and made their furrows long.
But the LORD is righteous;
he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.”
(Psalms 129:1-4 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.”
(Isaiah 65:17 NIV)

“Never again will there be in it
an infant who lives but a few days,
or an old man who does not live out his years;
the one who dies at a hundred
will be thought a mere child;
the one who fails to reach a hundred
will be considered accursed.
They will build houses and dwell in them;
they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.”
(Isaiah 65:20-21 NIV)

They will not labor in vain,
nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune;
for they will be a people blessed by the LORD,
they and their descendants with them.
Before they call I will answer;
while they are still speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb will feed together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox,
and dust will be the serpent’s food.
They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,”
says the LORD.
(Isaiah 65:23-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate on what has connected with my heart and mind. I pray to God what has moved me, turning my thoughts and meditations to Him and peacefully enjoying His presence.

These are interesting passages, and beautiful, as well. I can’t really identify with the psalm, as I do not feel as if I have ever been “oppressed.” Sadly, there are people groups in the U.S. who, historically and presently, have been oppressed. I am not part of any of those. I am a white, upper-middle-class male. We’ve traditionally had it pretty good in this country. Unfortunately, there are many of us who do not want to acknowledge the oppression of others that has occurred.

But that’s not a direction I want to take, this morning. I focus, rather, on the deliverance of the Lord. Verse 4 o the psalm declares the righteousness of the Lord, and that He has cut the oppressed free from the “cords of the wicked.” As part of my prayer, I do wonder why, if that is true, we still see such oppression in our world, especially in the “land of the free.” At the same time, I celebrate my own deliverance from the cord of the wicked, but that being a spiritual deliverance from spiritual cords of wickedness.

I do believe that God desires us to be active in seeking justice and deliverance for those who are oppressed.

The end result of all of this can be seen in Isaiah’s beautiful passage. While there are parts of it that still present questions for me, over all, it is one of the more comforting passages in the entire Bible.

First we see the creation of “new heavens and a new earth.” I’m intrigued by what the second half of that verse means, “The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” I’m not going to try to tackle the theology of that statement, but do believe that it has to do with the promise that all of our tears will be dried up. It also leads me down the path that disagrees with people who believe that their ancestors are “looking down on them,” from “heaven.” But again . . . that’s not a topic for today.

I have all kinds of questions for verses 20-21. I’ve looked at Matthew Henry’s commentary on it, and it doesn’t address my questions at all. I wonder about this talk of “dying” in the new heavens and new earth. I have to assume that this is figurative language, because we believe in eternal life, and in the new heavens and new earth, there will be no death at all. So perhaps the thought that “the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child,” is hyperbole.

Actually, the NIV seems to be quite different from the KJV.

There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.
(Isaiah 65:20 KJV)

So I’m moving on. The description of this life continues in verses 23-25, and it is unimaginable, frankly. Considering the times we have lived in and through, and the times that have gone before us. There will be no vain labor (it does appear that there will be “labor,” but perhaps it will look more like any work that Adam and Eve did pre-fall); the children will have no misfortune. Again . . . more questions. Will there be “new children” in this time? I have no answer to these questions.

But the presence of the Lord will be so strong and so prevalent that He will answer before the words leave our lips. And there will be no violence of any kind. Even the animals who were previously predator and prey will live peacefully together.

Father, this is a wonderfully beautiful picture of what we can expect in our future. As I’ve written, questions have arisen in my mind, but they are not, in my opinion, terribly important questions. They are not vital to my faith. They are peripheral, at best. I can only imagine, as the song says, what this will look like. I can only imagine how I will react and live in this world that Isaiah has presented. The idea of a world without sickness or death or violence or oppression or crime . . . this is so foreign to me. But I long for it, and am so grateful that You have given us this preview of what it will be like. The last line of this passage, “They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” gives me something to long for and hope for. I trust in Your promises, Father. They help me get through the difficult times in this life. But my “difficult” times are nothing compared to those who truly face oppression and injustice. I pray, Father, that You would help me see ways to work for justice and the cessation of oppression.

I pray, Father, that Your Church would work to this end, for the common good and benefit of all people. May we experience deep care, bold love, and rich community within the “walls” of the Church.

"God of every square inch,
thank You for the promise of Your coming kingdom,
the hope that everything wrecked will be completely renovated.
Renew in me the vision that faith in You has everything to do with construction safety and agricultural practices,
labor laws and justice seeking,
flourishing cities and thriving people.
Let Your kingdom come.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your loving kindness also come to me, Yahweh, your salvation, according to your word.
(Psalms 119:41 WEB)


A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)

Love from the center of who you are;
don’t fake it.
Run for dear life from evil;
hold on for dear life to good.
Be good friends who love deeply;
practice playing second fiddle.
Don’t burn out;
keep yourselves fueled and aflame.
Be alert servants of the Master,
cheerfully expectant.
Don’t quit in hard times;
pray all the harder.
Help needy Christians;
be inventive in hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 MSG)

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
(Ephesians 5:1-2 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
(1 John 4:7-11 ESV)


I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
(Galatians 2:20 ESV)

Is it possible to live as though we have already died?

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!

May the LORD answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
(Psalms 20:1 NIV)

Grace and peace, friends.

This Is the Way; Walk In It

Good morning. Today is Tuesday, the ninth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,252

Three days until C’s birthday!

Not a lot has happened, to speak of, since I finished yesterday’s blog. We did have a pool guy come and look at our panels to see why the indoor panel wasn’t connecting properly with the outside panel. Turns out that connection isn’t really “wireless” like we thought it was. And the wire that connects the two is pretty much shot. About two feet of the wire is exposed, as it comes out of a plastic conduit to attach to the outdoor box, and that has had sunlight exposure for, oh, around twenty years, now. Ironically, after the guy left, I went to the back door to look at the inside panel, and it was, once again, connected. He must have wiggled the wire or something.

Anyway, we have a few options, and he is going to get us estimates on all of them. Well, not the first option . . . I think we have ruled out trying to “fish” a new wire all the way through all of that conduit and down through the wall at the back door. That would be very difficult, and might not work at all. The other options, though, involve attaching an antenna to the box outside, and either having a remote in the house or using phone apps to control the equipment. I think my first choice would be the phone app. There might actually be an option that enables both the remote and the phones. He’s going to check on that, too.

After some careful thought, I decided, yesterday evening, to go back and revise my answers on my WW app. I decided to tell it that I am not “living with” type 2 diabetes. And, in truth, I don’t believe that to be false. I’m not “living with it.” It is controlled, quite well. In fact, just two days ago, my glucose reading was below 80, which is actually below recommended levels before eating breakfast. Anyway, what this did was lower my daily allotment of points down to 25, but allow me to, once again, have fruit at zero points. I still get avocados at zero points, too! One thing that seems true, across the board, though, is that tuna is no longer zero for any of us. That’s sad, because we eat a lot of tuna. But it is still very low in points, a whole twelve-ounce can (nine ounces after draining) comes in at only three points. And my black-eyed peas are still zero points, so one of my favorite lunches is still very low in points. Yes. I mix black-eyed peas and tuna. Don’t judge until you’ve tried it.

Today is my half day at work, from 4:15-8:15, this evening. I plan to head up to a grocery store, right after I finish this, to get more (you guessed it) bananas and grapes. Then I’m going to get Subway for lunch for us (C works from home today). That way S can have the second half of her ham sandwich for dinner tonight, and C can do whatever she wants, and I will throw something together after I get home. I won’t be staying up too late tonight, as I work again, full shift tomorrow, 9:15-6:15.

I am still currently reading The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life, by Robert E. Webber. It’s slow going, as it is rather dense. But it is interesting, and I believe it will be, in the long run, helpful.

Today is World Freedom Day, commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. “If you don’t know what it means to be afraid to voice your opinion, then you can consider yourself very lucky to live in a place where liberty is a priority as well as a basic human right. And like all good things, liberty should be celebrated, and that’s what World Freedom Day is all about.”

The word for today is serein, “fine rain falling after sunset from a sky in which no clouds are visible.” I just realized that my “word of the day” link is a day behind, but I don’t really care. I don’t think I have ever experienced, or at least noticed serein.

Today’s quote is from Edith Wharton, an American author. “True originality consists not in a new manner but in a new vision.”

Birthdays for November 9:

Gail Borden, American manufacturer, inventor of condensed milk, 1801-1874
Hedy Lamarr, Austrian-American actress (Samson & Delilah) and inventor (radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes), 1914-2000
Whitey Herzog, American baseball manager, 1931 (90)
Carl Sagan, American astronomer, 1934-1996
Bob Gibson, American HoF baseball pitcher, 1935-2020
Mary Travers, American folk singer (Peter, Paul and Mary), 1936-2009
Tom Fogerty, American musician, brother of John (Creedence Clearwater Revival), 1941-1990
Susan Tedeschi, American blues musician (Tedeschi Trucks Band), 1970 (51)
Tom Fogarty played rhythm guitar
Susan Tedeschi, singer. Married to Derek Trucks, the guitar player next to her. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

The Morning Moon, by Daryl Madden

A page of life
Will be here soon
A prayer within
The morning moon

A being of
Two sides to see
An offer here
Which will I be?

To let the dark
Now fade away
Rejoice within
The light this day

Still the silence
Of the soul
Align my will
To Your control

As birds prepare
Their symphony
Lord let my song
Be one with Thee

You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.”
(Isaiah 12:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which is what turned Your wrath away from us
2. for the nice weather we have been having, lately
3. that our Teacher, the Holy Spirit, is not hidden from us; He is always there, telling us which way to walk
4. that You, in Your longing to be gracious to us, have arisen and shown compassion upon us
5. for Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-FIVE – DAY THREE

INVITATION

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
(Matthew 11:28 ESV)

As I pause during this quiet moment, I reflect on the propitiation of Christ, and its effect on God’s wrath for sin.

BIBLE SONG

A song of ascents.

Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.

The scepter of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.

LORD, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be on Israel.
(Psalms 125:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
“In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it.”
(Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the LORD is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
(Isaiah 30:18-21 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read over these passages again, noticing how the Lord might be speaking to me through them. I will dwell, briefly, in meditation, over any word or phrase that jumps out at me. I will contemplate the wonderful truth found therein, praying my thoughts to God, my life to Him. I will take refreshment in His presence.

The comparison of us who trust in the Lord to Mount Zion, “which cannot be shaken but endures forever,” is huge. Who among us has been “shaken?” And what does that mean?

The Hebrew word in that verse is translated “removed” in the KJV. I think “removed” carries a little bit better connotation than “shaken.” In terms of my faith, I have certainly been “shaken,” many times in my life.

But I have not EVER been “removed!”

I have not fallen away; been carried away. I have not lost my faith.

Make no mistake . . . this is not because of the strength of my faith or my trust. This is because of the strength of the Lord God Almighty. He has held me fast; He has kept me from ultimately falling away; when I stray from the path, He brings me back, He preserves me. The Lord is my Light and my Salvation. Whom, then, shall I fear?

Because of His great power and His very great and precious promises, I am like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken.”

Hallelujah!

I will pray, along with this unnamed psalmist, that the Lord will “do good to those who are good, to those who are upright in heart.” Of course, we know, from Jesus, that there is none good, but God. Nevertheless, we who walk in Him can be, by association, considered to be “good,” because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed unto us.

Where do we find our strength? The Lord says, through the prophet Isaiah, “in repentance and rest,” and, “quietness and trust.” But then, we see that His people “would have none of it.”

Do we find ourselves in the same place, today? To some degree, I believe we do. We still feel like we always have to be “doing.” And the Christian life, this walk with Christ is not something we do. It is something we be. Yes, there is action that needs to be taken. But it begins with being. Our salvation is not based on something we do. It is utterly, entirely based on what God did.

What has God done? Among other things, He has risen up and shown us compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Why? Because He longs to be gracious to us!

I’m intrigued by verses 20 and 21. Verse 20 speaks of “teachers” not being hidden any more. What I am getting from this is not physical, human “teachers.” The Hebrew word in that verse has some interesting meanings. In most cases, the word is considered a verb, which means “to throw,” or “shoot.” I’m also seeing “point” as a possible meaning. And isn’t this what teachers do? They point to what we need to be learning. They are indicators.

I will confess that I might be reading way more into this than is there, but here’s what I am getting from these two verses.

God, in His longing to be gracious, has risen up and shown us compassion. He has given us “indicators,” signposts, perhaps, a “voice behind” (verse 21) us that says, “This is the way; walk in it.”

If you’re like me, and you are sometimes, you don’t always walk in that way. I know I don’t. Why? Because I’m not paying attention to the “teachers,” the “pointers,” the indicators that are right in front of me. They are not hidden from me. The way in which I should walk is not a mystery! Truthfully, there is no mystery to it.

This doesn’t give me the exact detail of everything I need to do, obviously. There’s not going to be a sign at every corner, that says, “Buy this car. Go to this school. Buy those bananas.” We do have to make some decisions, and a lot of those decisions have no bearing, whatsoever, on how our lives are going to turn out.

But we have many, many directions and pointers. Many are in Scripture, and if we have looked at His Word, and read it, and digested it, then, when important decisions have to be made, we should be able to hear that voice telling us “This is the way; walk in it.”

Father, I praise You that Your Holy Spirit, among other “signs” that You have given, is right there with us, all the time, telling us “This is the way; walk in it.” I pray for the wisdom and discipline to listen and heed His whisperings along the way. I am eternally grateful for Your graciousness and compassion, shown to us in many, many ways, but most especially in the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross. We cannot thank You enough. We can try, though. And I will try; I will utter thanksgiving on a daily basis, and will never run out of things for which to be thankful. Thank You for giving me a heart that is full of gratitude. Help me to walk in the way that the Holy Spirit tells me. Help me to walk in the ways that Your Word has already told me.

I pray for the call upon us to follow Christ into our communities, workplaces, and wherever else we go. May His light shine in and through us, all the time. This means we must, MUST, set aside our own preferences and “rights,” sacrificing for the good of others, loving others as we love ourselves, and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ as You have loved us. I pray for the peace and well-being of our communities, our cities, our states, our countries, our world, Your Church.

"Saving God,
startle me with the wonder of Your forgiveness,
the joining of justice and compassion in Jesus.
Because of Your mercy in the cross of Jesus,
You will not hold against me any of my sins.
Let me rest in the just verdict of Your salvation,
free forever from condemnation.
Amen."

BLESSING

Let your steadfast love come to me,
O LORD,
your salvation according to your promise;
(Psalms 119:41 ESV)


Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.
(John 6:27 ESV)

Then he said to me,
“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel:
Not by might,
nor by power,
but by my Spirit,
says the LORD of hosts.”
(Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

Arise,
shine,
for your light has come,
and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you.
(Isaiah 60:1 ESV)

Father, I pray for Your Church, that we might, indeed, arise and shine. Rescue us, Lord! Unite Your Church in Your truth, and Your truth alone. We are scattered, Lord, as sheep without a shepherd. We have committed idolatry by following after men instead of You. Save us, O God! Cast off the scales from our eyes; show us Your truth. Jesus is Truth; Jesus is Life; Jesus is Way. Take our eyes off of politics and politicians and conspiracies. Help us regain an attitude of humility and sacrifice for our fellow man.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Humility Trending

Today is Thursday, the twenty-eighth of October, 2021.

May the peace of God reign in your life, today.

Day 23,240

Ten days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

My day started out dubiously, as I made a cup of coffee. Without putting a cup under the drip. Oops. Hopefully, that’s the worst thing that happens today. And it could have been a much worse mess. The drip tray caught most of it.

This afternoon, we are finally supposed to close on our mortgage refi. It was supposed to be Tuesday morning, but then they realized that there were some forms that I had to sign and send back. Then, last night, there were even more places that I needed to sign and send back. Makes me wonder if these people really know what they are doing.

Yesterday was a good day at the library. It wasn’t terribly busy, it seems, at the circulation desk, so there were side jobs/tasks that got accomplished. I’m still not perfect, though. I was, however, complimented on humility, by one of the assistant librarians who always seems to enjoy working with me. I think she likes that I don’t get all huffy when she points out my mistakes.

And yes, I still make mistakes. Please reference above comment about not being perfect. The thing is, the way the schedule works, since I’m the lone “floater” (which I like being, by the way), I go a whole week at a time without working in circulation, followed by a week where I work two shifts in that department. So there is a lack of continuity, which makes for less consistency, so that makes me more apt to forget little details. The main aspects are easy to remember. But I tend to forget to fill in certain pieces of the information for new patrons. The most common is the birthday field. In my opinion, it’s in a weird place in the system, which makes it easier to forget.

The thing is, though, that the birth date is probably the most important piece to put in, because that is the demographic we use first, to check if someone already has a library account. The other thing I tend to forget is the alternate ID, which would be their driver’s license or other photo ID number.

In my previous job, forms like that, on the computer, had markers on fields that had to be completed. In fact, the software would not allow us toe save the work unless those fields had been filled in. But, in this case, I just need to work on memory. The thing that hurts is that, as previously referenced, I don’t do these tasks on a daily basis.

They don’t seem to be upset about it, though, so that’s good. I keep getting compliments, and people seem to like working with me.

I’m off work today, and have a couple of things I want to get done. There is some laundry to fold, and I think I’ll make a trip to a grocery store. We need bananas. I have already started our dinner, which will be our Chicken Taco Crockpot Soup, tonight.

I am currently reading The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson.

Today is Plush Animal Lover’s Day. So is it the animal or the animal lover that is “plush?”

The word for today is sanguivorous. Hah! My spellchecker’s got nothing on that one! It means, “feeding on blood, as a bat or insect.” Or vampire?

Today’s quote is from R. Buckminster Fuller, American inventor. “Humanity is acquiring all the right technology for all the wrong reasons.” This guy died in 1983, and he said that prior to that. Prophet, maybe?

Significant birthdays on October 28:

Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch humanist and theologian, 1466-1536
John Laurens, American soldier, diplomat, and abolitionist, and good friend of Alexander Hamilton, 1754-1782
Elsa Lanchester, British actress (Bride of Frankenstein), 1902-1986
Jonas Salk, American scientist (polio vaccine), 1914-1995
Bowie Kuhn, American lawyer, MLB commissioner 1969-1984, 1926-2007
Dame Joan Plowright, British actress (Dennis the Menace, 101 Dalmatians), 1929 (92)
Charlie Daniels, American country-rock guitarist and fiddler (Devil Went Down to Georgia), 1936-2020
Annie Potts, American actress (Designing Women, Ghostbusters), 1952 (69) (I've always thought she is really cute)
Bill Gates, American businessman, founder of Microsoft, 1955 (66)
Julia Roberts, American actress (Mystic Pizza, Pretty Woman), 1967 (54)
Joaquin Phoenix, American actor (Walk the Line, Joker), 1974 (47)

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Spirit Invoking, by Daryl Madden

A prayer of presence
The Spirit invoking
Drenched in Your love
A sacred soaking

The Spirit igniting
The word to devour
In time of beyond
A Holy hour

With soul of surrender
A finding so freeing
The Spirit infuses
A blessed being

Within this new wineskin
The Spirit is swelling
One of becoming
A divine dwelling

Save us,
O LORD our God,
and gather us from among the nations,
that we may give thanks to your holy name
and glory in your praise.
(Psalms 106:47 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for reminders of the necessity of humility
2. for the indwelling of Your Spirit
3. for You teaching me humility
4. for Your great love toward us, and Your faithfulness that endures forever
5. for Your heart for the poor and needy, and that You have embedded that care in my heart, as well

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

One day spent in your Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else; I would rather stand at the gate of the house of my God than live in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 GNB)

As I pause, during this quiet moment, I reflect on the reality of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, providing us with strength and wisdom for this life. I pray for the knowledge of His presence.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 117:1-2 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.

Discipline your children, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to their death.

A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty;
rescue them, and you will have to do it again.

Listen to advice and accept discipline,
and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

What a person desires is unfailing love;
better to be poor than a liar.

The fear of the LORD leads to life;
then one rests content, untouched by trouble.
(Proverbs 19:17-23 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue in the presence of the Lord, I mull over these passages, looking for truth and wisdom for my life. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me through the meditations and prayers.

Psalm 117 is short and simple, the shortest chapter in the Bible, and very close to the exact middle of the text of the Bible. There is nothing in it that has not already been said. However, that doesn’t make it any less important. The message is clear and plain. We should be praising God because His love for us is great, and His faithfulness endures forever. It is not possible to overstate those truths.

There are several ideas in this passage from Proverbs that bear looking at. The first, in verse 17, is the idea that Jesus promoted when He made his sheep and goats speech. Remember what He said:

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”
(Matthew 25:40 NIV)

This is part of his lengthy teaching on the end of the age, that begins with the somewhat cryptic chapter 24. But Proverbs 19:17 restates this truth. When we are kind to the poor, we “lend” to the Lord. And we will be rewarded. Now, personally, I think it better to be kind to the poor simply because we have a kind heart. But if we do it for the reward, we are still doing something good, even if the motivation is less pure. The point is, we must note that God has a heart for the poor, the neglected, the oppressed. And, since we know this to be true, then we should also strive to have that same heart.

Verse 19 is interesting, because it seems to support the idea of not enabling people. In other words, don’t keep helping someone who will just fall right back into the same trouble. You’ll just have to do it again. Great wisdom and discernment is required, here.

Verse 20 assures us that, if we listen to good advice and accept discipline, we will be considered wise. Notice that our job performance is not mentioned. Where this gives me comfort is in thinking about my work at the library. I listen to advice. I accept discipline, willingly, with a noticeable heart to correct my errors. And yesterday, I was complimented on being humble. Believe me when I say that I am always shocked when someone calls me “humble.”

Verse 21 does not forbid the making of plans. Some might read it that way, but I don’t. What it does do, for me, is remind me that, yes, I can make plans, but it is God’s ultimate plan that will be worked out. If my plans don’t get in the way or are even in agreement with God’s plans, it’s all good. If my plans don’t figure into God’s plans, I had better be willing to change.

That idea reminds me of a preacher story.

In the darkest part of the night, a ships captain cautiously piloted his warship through the fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers lurking just out of sight. 

Then His worst fears were realised when he saw a bright light straight ahead. It appeared to be a vessel on a collision course with his ship. To avert disaster he quickly radioed the oncoming vessel.

“This is Captain Jeremiah Smith,” his voice crackled over the radio. “Please alter your course 10 degrees south! Over.”

To the captains amazement, the foggy image did not move. Instead, he heard back on the radio, “Captain Smith. This is Private Thomas Johnson. please alter your course 10 degrees north! Over.”

Appalled at the audacity of the message, the captain shouted back over the radio, “Private Johnson, this is Captain Smith, and I order you to immediately alter your course 10 degree south! Over.”

A second time the oncoming light did not budge. “With all due respect Captain Smith,” came the privates voice again, “I order you to alter your course immediately 10 degrees north! Over.”

Angered and frustrated that this impudent sailor would endanger the lives of his men and crew, the captain growled back over the radio, “Private Johnson. I can have you court-marshalled for this! For the last time, I command you on the authority of the United States government to alter your course 10 degrees to the South! I am a battleship!”

The privates final transmission was chilling: “Captain Smith, sir. Once again with all due respect, I command you to alter your course 10 degrees to the North! I am a lighthouse!”

https://yfcillustrations.blogspot.com/

God is the lighthouse. He is not going to change course. I may be a battleship, or I may be a dinghy. I’ve always thought I was a little dingy.

Sorry.

Either way, when my purposes/plans run into the reality of God’s plans, I’m the one who must alter my course.

Today’s reading ends with verse 23 which, once again, stresses the idea of the fear of the Lord, and the impact it has on our lives. And, yes, it is true that the Hebrew word translated “fear” in this instance, can also be translated as “reverence.” Out of all of the translations I look at, though, only one translates the word as something other than “fear.” Just imagine how you would react if you came face to face with Him. Consider if you lived in a country with a King and you wound up somehow meeting him. That is the kind of “fear” we are referring to.

And, in this case, this fear leads to life. It leads to a life of restful contentment, “untouched by trouble.” I don’t see that as a “promise,” per se. I tend to not look at Proverbs as promises. It’s more, I believe, a statement of fact, of consequence. If you do this, then this will happen. If you live with a healthy fear of the Lord, you will have a life of restful contentment and be untouched by trouble.

Does this mean I won’t see trouble? No, no, a thousand times no! But it won’t “touch” me. The KJV, in this verse, says that the person who fears God will not be “visited with evil.” The word “visited,” translated “touched” in the NIV, also has a meaning of oversight, as an overseer. So it means that, if I live my life in the fear of the Lord (which is the beginning of wisdom, as previously stated), trouble will not have any mastery over me. It won’t rule my life.

Father, I am grateful for these truths, presented in Your Word today. I thank You for Your great love for us and Your faithfulness that endures forever. I thank You for the heart You have given me, a heart that cares for the poor and is kind to them, which, in turn, equals “lending” to You. I believe I have reached a point where my kindness is not motivated by the promise of reward. Please give me wisdom to know when it is good to help someone and when giving help will only lead to them repeating the action that got them in trouble in the first place. Thank You for teaching me humility. I don’t run around claiming to be humble, of course, because I don’t necessarily think that I am. And I praise You that You have instilled a measure of fear for You in my heart. All glory to You, Lord, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for growth in these areas to continue in my life, especially in humility and holiness. I pray that You would continually uncover idols in my heart. I pray, as well, for Your continued forgiveness, and that You would enable me to extend that same forgiveness to those who have wronged me in some way.

"Self-giving God,
in the interconnected economy of grace You graciously pay off my debt of sin,
so now I owe my neighbor a debt of love.
Yet in making payments of kindness to my neighbor I'm lending to You,
loans that You pay back,
with interest.
It's a generous cycle of grace that I never want to step out of.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen."

BLESSING

“Happy are those who work for peace; God will call them his children!
(Matthew 5:9 GNB)


The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
(Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV)

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
(Matthew 5:41 NIV)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)

Interesting . . . more about humility.

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
(Matthew 6:10 ESV)

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
(Matthew 16:18 ESV)

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
(Mark 11:24 ESV)

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
(Ephesians 4:1 ESV)

There’s a concept being worked out, here, and it is the idea of “living from the future.” This is an interesting thought to me. Here’s what Jonathan Cahn has to say about it:

“Every problem you have will be answered, either in heaven or before. So the secret is to live not from the problem, but from the problem solved, from the answer, before the answer. You must choose to live not from your present crisis, but from its future overcoming, not from your present obstacle, but from its future breakthrough. You’re in a battle. In the future that battle will be won. [I would have worded that differently. In the future the battle IS won, not ‘will be.’] So don’t live from the battle. Live from its future victory. As it is written, when you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and in your asking, give thanks to God. Live from heaven, from the kingdom yet to come, from the life yet to be, even from the you you are yet to become. Fight the won battle, run the run race, accomplish the finished work, start from the finish line, begin from the victory, rejoice now from the joy at the end. Live now from what will one day be, and you’ll live a life of blessing, and victory, on earth as it is in heaven.”

I will be pondering this more throughout this 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!

May the LORD richly bless both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
(Psalms 115:14-15 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Path of Love

Good morning! Today is Monday, the twenty-fifth of October, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,237

Only thirteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends.

We had a great time, yesterday morning, with our church group. While we had the gathering over Zoom, this time, due to some folks being unavailable for in person gathering, it was a great discussion over 1 John chapter 5. We had actually read that passage the week before, but we had spent so much of our time catching up on each other and “fellowshipping” that we only managed to discuss a couple of verses. So we read it again and discussed more verses that caught our attention. I think we all left feeling like we had made some significant progress in understanding some of the more difficult verses of that chapter. It was awesome.

After church, we had our usual Applebee’s lunch. C and I watched the first episode of a Hulu original, called “Only Murders in the Building.” It features Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez, who all play characters who live in an apartment building in New York City. All three are obsessed with the same true crime podcast (which featured Tina Fey). When a murder happens in their building, the all become quite interested in it, and decide to start their own podcast.

We got a new “cat tree” yesterday evening, delivered by Amazon. C really liked that it came yesterday evening, and had to be assembled. It gave her something to do that felt productive. We put it where the old one was, and moved the old one over by the back door, at least for the time being. So far, they have laid on the old one by the back door. Haha! I have yet to catch one of them in the new one. However, C told me that at least two of them were inside one of the compartments of the new one while she was trying to put it together. Helping, you know.

Nothing much on the agenda for today. That’s something I still need to work on . . . planning my days around my work schedule. There is some laundry to be folded, and dinner to be cooked later, after C alerts me that she is on her way home.

Earlier, this morning, I decided to have my coffee out on the back deck, in one of our new lounge chairs that I got C for our anniversary. It was very nice out there. Borderline too cool, but not quite. I drank my coffee and read a few chapters of the book I am currently reading. Which reminds me . . . I believe I have decided to share that each day. What I am reading, currently, I mean. So, for today it is this:

The World Series begins tomorrow night, Braves v. Astros in Houston. My attitude about it has changed a bit, as I discovered, yesterday, that Ron Washington, former favorite coach for the Texas Rangers, is third base coach for the Atlanta Braves. This actually gives me a bit of a reason to care. So I will be actively cheering for the Braves, this year. Doesn’t mean I’ll watch a lot, but who knows?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

When We Look at the Cross, by Daryl Madden

When we look at the cross the truth to sink in
In wounds that He bears we see our sin

When we look at the cross what do we see?
Our sins swallowed up by His great mercy

When we look at the cross our treasure in store
Of eternal life for death is no more

When we look at the cross we are drawn above
For we are consumed in His passion of love

A Psalm for giving thanks.

Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him;
bless his name!
For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
(Psalms 100:1-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that You are good, Your steadfast love enduring forever, and Your faithfulness to all generations
2. that we are Your people, the sheep of Your pasture
3. that You can turn our "hard rocks into springs of water" (Psalm 114)
4. that if we obey the commands of Jesus (love God and love people), we won't have to worry about those seven things that God detests in Proverbs 6:16-19
5. for all of Your creation, living things, both great and small
6. that my cup overflows
7. for Your blessings on the peacemakers

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-THREE – DAY TWO

INVITATION

A single day in your courts is better than a thousand anywhere else! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked.
(Psalms 84:10 NLT)

I take a moment, during this peaceful morning, to contemplate what I see when I look at the cross of Jesus. Do I see my sins in His wounds, swallowed up by His mercy? Do I see the treasure of eternal life, promised by our Father? Am I drawn above, consumed in His passion?

BIBLE SONG

When Israel came out of Egypt,
Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary,
Israel his dominion.

The sea looked and fled,
the Jordan turned back;
the mountains leaped like rams,
the hills like lambs.

Why was it, sea, that you fled?
Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams,
you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turned the rock into a pool,
the hard rock into springs of water.
(Psalms 114:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,
feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies
and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of God, indwelt by His Spirit, I linger over these passages, seeking inspiration for meditation and prayer. I ask the Spirit to guide me in His truth, that I might walk effectively in His Kingdom.

Psalm 114 presents interesting visual imagery. This is all about celebrating Israel’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt. Oddly enough, the division between Israel and Judah is years in the future. Yet there is a distinction made in this psalm. Both are considered dwelling places of the Lord, though, Israel His “dominion” and Judah His “sanctuary.”

It is easy to envision the events in verse 3. We can easily see the Red Sea “fleeing,” as it parted for Israel to walk through on dry ground. We can also see the Jordan “turning back,” as it was also divided so that the people of Israel could cross over into the Promised Land.

Verse 4 is a little more difficult, at least for me, to picture. I don’t remember anything significant happening to mountains and hills in the journey of Israel. Maybe someone can assist me, here?

Verse 7 calls for the earth to tremble at the presence of the Lord. Would that there was more of this that happened. Maybe that’s what happened to the mountains and hills. Perhaps they trembled in His presence. For He did, indeed, turn the rock into springs of water, to provide sustenance and refreshment for His people.

The Proverb selection presents an interesting literary device. And if you read more of Proverbs, you will see this used several times. It begins saying that there are six things that God hates, and then amends it to say “seven that are detestable to Him.” There are some who say that this means that the seventh is the more detestable of the group. And Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase might actually provide a little support to that idea.

Here are six things GOD hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion:
eyes that are arrogant,
a tongue that lies,
hands that murder the innocent,
a heart that hatches evil plots,
feet that race down a wicked track,
a mouth that lies under oath,
a troublemaker in the family.
(Proverbs 6:16-19 MSG)

Let’s look at them.

First, in the NIV, “haughty eyes.” The Message says “eyes that are arrogant,” and the KJV says “a proud look.” I think that’s pretty self-explanatory, but I might add that, in my opinion, I get the idea that it means looking down on someone, thinking that we are better than they are.

Second, NIV says, “a lying tongue.” MSG says “a tongue that lies,” and KJV says “a lying tongue.” Again, self-explanatory. God doesn’t like lies. Elsewhere, the Bible says that a lie is an abomination in the eyes of God (Proverbs 12:22). However, it is worth noting that the Hebrew midwives lied, as did Rahab the harlot. Both were rewarded for their deceitfulness. So the motivation behind the lie is important. Corrie ten Boom’s family was deceitful when they hid Jews in their crawlspace.

Third, NIV says, “hands that shed innocent blood.” All of the other main translations are very similar, if not exactly the same. I think it safe to say that “murder” is the operative idea, here. And God is very clear about this in His laws.

Fourth, NIV says, “a heart that devises wicked schemes.” Again, the other translations are very similar. I get the idea of plotting to harm someone, or to steal from them. Perhaps scamming them. There are many hearts out there who are constantly devising “wicked schemes.” I mean, who among us has not received a phone call about extending our automobile warranty?? My mother even gets those, and she has never owned a car! There’s also the ones about lowering your credit card’s interest rate. And let’s not forget the emails about package tracking numbers on things we have not ordered.

And let me say this. These types of schemes prey on the “elderly,” especially those who may not be quite so tech-savvy. They are not stupid by any stretch of the imagination. But they might fall more easily for such scams, at least until they are more aware of what they are.

Personally, when I’m feeling a little bit snarky (and less Christlike, admittedly), I might answer the phone (I don’t normally answer if I don’t recognize the number) and mess with whoever is on the other end. I have succeeded in getting cussed out be several of them, which makes me laugh.

The fifth thing is “feet that are quick to rush into evil.” Now this one might sting a little bit more. At least, hopefully, when we are tempted to sin, we drag our feet a little, at least trying to resist. But I’ll be honest . . . there have been times in my life when there was little to no hesitation. The idea came into my head, and my feet said, “Let’s go!” According to the author of Proverbs (presumably Solomon), God hates this.

The sixth thing is “a false witness who pours out lies.” That’s the NIV. The Message says “a mouth that lies under oath,” and the KJV is similar to the NIV, as is ESV and NLT. This is more than just lying, as this has already been covered with number 2, “a lying tongue.” This has more to do, I think with the idea behind number four. Lying under oath is an attempt to subjugate (boy that’s a hard one to spell) the truth. It probably has a close relationship to number four, though, as it likely involves a “wicked scheme.” Now, I have, for many years, associated the commandment that says “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” as being more associated with gossip than lying under oath.

And that brings us to number seven, which, according to some, God loathes with even more passion than the other six. “A person who stirs up conflict in the community.” Peterson renders this “a troublemaker in the family.” But the ESV and KJV may nail this one even better. “One who sows discord among brothers.” I have no trouble believing that this, in God’s eyes, is the most detestable item in this list of seven things. The “community,” the “family,” the “brothers,” is what makes up the Church. And I believe it safe to rest assured that God Almighty loathes any sowing of discord among the brothers and sisters that make up the Church.

Occasionally, in reading Paul’s letters, you might run across some names at the end, names of people who do just that. At one point, he even speaks of handing someone over to Satan. There is no love lost over people like that in Scripture. And I believe that some serious retrospection is always good, in that regard. Have I sowed discord among brothers? With a heavy heart, I have to confess that, at various times in my past, this may have happened. But I don’t think it was planned or schemed.

And this is where this all comes together. There are people in this world whose main purpose in life is to cause trouble and steal the joy of other people. And the person who lives with that goal in mind is one who pretty much sums up all seven of these things that the Lord hates. Are these people true believers, Christians? I am not wise enough to answer that question, and only God knows the answer to this. That’s kind of like wondering if Judas was saved. Far be it from me to try to guess that answer, although Jesus did opine that it would have been better for him if he had never been born.

And the positive answer to all seven of these things is summed up in one command that Jesus gave us. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Consider it, for a moment. If you are successfully loving your neighbor, you won’t look down on them, thinking that you are better; you won’t lie to them (at least not maliciously); you certainly won’t murder them; you won’t devise wicked schemes to relieve them of their money or property; you won’t rush into evil deeds (this may or may not involve another person); you won’t bear false witness against them or gossip about them, and you won’t try to cause trouble in the family or the community.

If we love God and love people, the way Jesus instructed us, commanded us, none of these seven things will be an issue for us.

Father, thank You for bringing these things to mind, today. I always need reminders about such things, as well as reminders of how I’m doing at loving You and loving others. For the most part, I seem to be having a better time of it, lately. Your Holy Spirit has been guiding me down the path of love. This, of course, makes me think of an old song by The Cowsills. But, God, You have the means and desire to make us follow this path, and I pray for all of humanity, especially in my own country, that You would lead us down this path. I can’t expect a whole lot from those who are unbelievers, although I dare say that some of them are doing a better job of loving others than Your Church is. Or maybe it’s those who are pretending to be Your Church. You alone can make that distinction, as You are the one who is responsible for pulling the weeds. We aren’t wise enough to do that. Above all, Father, please help us to avoid, like the plague, any hint of stirring up discord among Your Church.

Help us, Lord, to see Your work in the world around us. Give us eyes to see, ears to hear.

"God of grace and truth,
make me whole,
a person of integrity who heals and makes peace.
I pray for eyes that see what's best in others,
a graceful and candid mouth,
hands that never twist but hold up truth,
a heart that aims to encourage,
and feet that pursue my neighbor's best.
Amen."

That’s a really good prayer, and I’m going to save it for later use.

BLESSING

God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.
(Matthew 5:9 NLT)


O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Here is the sea,
great and wide,
which teems with creatures innumerable,
living things both small and great.
(Psalms 104:24-25 ESV)

A Psalm of David.

The LORD is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
(Psalms 23:1-6 ESV)

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.”
(Genesis 32:30 ESV)

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
(Numbers 6:24-26 ESV)

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
(Matthew 5:8 ESV)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
(2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV)

Father, please show me Your face. And help me to be Your face to someone else today.

Come on, everybody together; Come on, let me show you the way; Come on, we can do much better; Follow down the path of love.

Grace and peace, friends.