Pressing On

Good morning! Today is Thursday, the sixteenth of December, 2021, the third Thursday of Advent!

Peace of Christ be with you!

Day 23,289

Only nine days until Christmas!

Yesterday turned out to be a fun day. Right after I finished my devotional blog, I texted C and asked if she wanted to have lunch. She said, “sure!” So I got dressed and headed her way. We roamed around a bit before discovering a strip shopping center that had a couple of possible destinations. There was a New York pizza place, and, to my delight, Fred’s Downtown Phillies. I know Fred’s from Carrollton, nearby where I used to work. I never actually went there, because one of our other associates used to go pick them up for us. But I knew they were delicious. So we went there. They did not disappoint. They are even better, fresh at the restaurant! The bread was hot and toasty, and they chop up all the ingredients with the steak, so it’s all mixed in. Their fries are delicious, too. I had their “Philly Toothpicks,” which are a combination of onion and jalapeno strips, breaded and fried. But the fries, which C had, were better. I have a feeling we will go back there.

After lunch, I dropped C off at the front of the building, and headed over to the ITRC pro shop, where I had left a bowling ball to be drilled, actually before C’s back surgery. They were closed, but there were people in there (one of which I knew, as he is one of C’s work friends), so they got my ball for me. I paid for the drilling and proceeded to bowl a couple games at the lanes, there. I got a free hour of bowling with the drilling. I loved the drilling job, as well as the ball. It had been C’s ball, but she wasn’t using it any more, so she let me have it. It is the best drill I have ever had on a bowling ball. And what I learned from the pro at the shop is that, if the ball is drilled properly, you do not have to grip the ball! Amazing!

I’ve talked to C, and I plan to check out local bowling leagues that bowl on weekday mornings, after the first of the year. I could bowl on Monday, Tuesday, or Thursday mornings, as I am always off work at those times.

Our bedroom fan quit working at around 6:00 this morning. So I have a task for today. I will head up to the local hardware store after I finish the blog, to see if they have any fans available. Hopefully, they will have some box fans, which is typically what we have in our bedroom. Fortunately, we have a little noisemaker box that simulates a box fan, for the noise.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm around here. It’s been windy down here, but nothing like some of the northern and midwestern states are experiencing. I read in Brother’s Campfire that Colorado is having winds that could knock eighteen-wheelers over. And we all have heard about the tornado devastations in Kentucky and surrounding areas, earlier this week.

I can finally see a weather forecast for Christmas day, though, and it is supposed to be a high of 51 and mostly sunny. Should be a beautiful day. Today is mostly cloudy, with a high of 71, and 35% chance of precip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, 
and the glory of the Lord shone around them, 
and they were filled with great fear. 
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.
For unto you is born this day 
in the city of David 
a Savior, 
who is Christ the Lord. 
(Luke 2:9-11 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the words of that angel
2. for candy, especially Christmas candy
3. for my family, most especially C
4. for Your mercies, new every morning, and Your great faithfulness
5. that Your love stands firm forever
And he who was seated on the throne said, 
"Behold, I am making all things new." 
Also he said, 
"Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 
(Revelation 21:5 ESV)
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; 
great is your faithfulness. 
(Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.
(Psalms 18:36 ESV)

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own.
 But one thing I do: 
forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 
I press on toward the goal 
for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
(Philippians 3:13-14 ESV)

We had a pastor once, who talked about this thing he called a “one percent grade.” The point being, if you keep moving up, it doesn’t matter how steeply you climb, as long as you are climbing. It doesn’t matter how fast you walk forward, as long as you walk forward. There is an old proverb that says, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true. What is also true, though, is that those steps have to keep coming.

“The small upward steps, taken every day, will end up lifting you to the heights. God has called you not only to love, but to keep loving; not only to believe, but to press on in believing; not only to do right, but to persevere in doing it.

“Don’t ever judge your life or what God is doing in your life by how it appears in the moment on the journey. . . . Walk this good road, and no matter what . . . keep walking it. Never give up, but keep walking, and you will end up standing on heights you never dreamed you could have attained. “

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

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

ADVENT – DAY NINETEEN

INVITATION

How wonderful it is to see a messenger 
coming across the mountains, 
bringing good news, 
the news of peace! 
He announces victory and says to Zion, 
"Your God is king!"
(Isaiah 52:7 GNB)

I pause during the quiet of this morning, considering the journey I have been on, combined with the great faithfulness and mercies of our God.

BIBLE SONG

 I will sing of the LORD's great love forever; 
with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known 
through all generations. 
I will declare that your love stands firm forever, 
that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. 
You said, "I have made a covenant with my chosen one, 
I have sworn to David my servant, 
'I will establish your line forever 
and make your throne firm through all generations.'" 

Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness— 
and I will not lie to David— 
that his line will continue forever 
and his throne endure before me like the sun; 
it will be established forever like the moon, 
the faithful witness in the sky." 
(Psalms 89:1-4, 35-37 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door! 
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
(James 5:7-11 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 or my mind, praying these things to God, turning my thoughts toward Him and enjoying His presence.

Father, I will sing of Your great love forever. This I have believed, for many years, and will continue to do so. This goes along with the thoughts of pressing on, presented in other readings for today. The journey begins and continues. How fast it goes is not important. The important thing is that I press on and stay faithful in believing, in loving, and in doing right, continuing to move forward in my faith, trust, and hope in You.

I will make these things known with my mouth, and I will make them known through my fingertips, as I type on this computer keyboard, sending these words out into the blogosphere, where anyone You decree may find them. I am grateful for the permanence and assurance of Your promises, exemplified in Your great promise to Your son, David. You have kept Your promise to him, through the arrival and Lordship of Jesus Christ. I believe that You will be faithful to keep all promises made to all people. Give me wisdom to know which promises are directly applicable to me, and which are not.

Give us patience, as we wait on You, Father. During this season of Advent, as we celebrate the birth of Christ, we also look forward to His second coming, His return, in which He will make all things right and fix all the effects that sin has had on our world, on Your kingdom. We look forward to the arrival of Your kingdom on earth, and pray that Your kingdom will come and Your will will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us patience and perseverance, as we know that You are full of compassion and mercy. All glory to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Father, give us spiritual renewal and help us to maintain the joy of our salvation, as we walk in Your kingdom. May the gifts and fruit of the Holy Spirit be manifest within us. And keep us ready to give a reason for the hope that we have.

"Ancient of Days,
You had a beginning as a child;
infinite God,
You weren't ashamed to take on our frail and finite humanity.
I praise You,
eternal God,
for becoming one of us,
because my salvation and resurrection depend on the reality of Your body.
Amen."

BLESSING

"Let us praise the Lord, 
the God of Israel! 
He has come to the help of his people 
and has set them free."
(Luke 1:68 GNB)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
(Psalms 19:14 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Is Able

Today is Wednesday, the eighth of September.

Peace be with you

Day 23,190

Fourteen days until the end of summer. What is interesting is that I am hearing people on some podcasts say that it’s already Fall. This an interesting trend, I guess, that simplifies the seasons down to full months. In other words, they consider fall beginning at the beginning of September. These are probably people who also believe that the new millennium began in the year 2000. But Autumn begins on September 22.

It is pouring down rain, outside. A virtual deluge. Ironically, I watered the front lawn for about an hour, earlier. I checked the forecast. There is a 21% chance of precipitation today.

There are also some pretty big thunder-boomers happening, and one of them knocked out the Internet for a bit, but it seems to be back.

C continues to improve, I think. The incision does seem to be seeping, just a bit, though, and we aren’t sure how concerned we should be about that.

My work/training at the library continues to go well, too. Yesterday, spent the first half learning the nuances of the “Youth” department. It’s a bit of a paradigm shift for me, as what Hurst considers “Youth,” I have always considered “children.” Basically, 0-12. 13-19 is considered “Young Adult” (also designated as “Teen Zone,” and they have their own room in the library, which I think is cool). Then I spent the rest of the day in the computer center, where I have made a couple of new friends. Today, I work 1:00-5:00, and will likely be shelving the whole time. After this afternoon, I won’t work again until next Monday.

It’s a tough choice on the “holiday” front, today, as it happens to be Star Trek Day. However, it is also Literacy Day, which is a much more important and concerning topic than Star Trek. I don’t know about the reliability of this information, but it seems to be corroborated across several sources. Americans read a “mean average” of only twelve books per year. But the median American has only read four to five books in the past twelve months. That that means is that half of Americans read more than four books in the last year, and half read fewer. This is alarming, but not surprising. So pick up a book and read today. Of course, this blog is probably “preaching to the choir,” because if you’re reading a blog, odds are, you probably read books, too.

The word for today is cathartic, an adjective meaning, “of or relating to the purging of the emotions or relieving of emotional tensions, especially through certain kinds of art, as tragedy or music.” Or maybe reading, perhaps? I find the reading of a good book to be quite cathartic.

The quote for today is from Arthur Schopenhauer, a German philosopher. “I’ve never known any trouble than an hour’s reading didn’t assuage.”

Significant birthdays on September 8:

Richard the Lionheart, king of England, 1157-1199
Antonin Dvorak, Czech composer (New World Symphony), 1841-1904
Nico Donkersloot, Dutch writer, 1902-1965. Never heard of him, I just like the name.
Frank Cady, actor (Sam Drucker), 1915-2012
Sid Caesar, comedian, 1922 (91)
Peter Sellers, English actor/comedian (The Pink Panther), 1925-1980
Patsy Cline, country singer (Crazy), 1932-1963
Guitar Shorty, blues guitar player, 1939 (82)
Bernie Sanders, politician, 1941 (80)
Aimee Mann, singer/songwriter (Till Tuesday), 1960 (61)
Peter Furler, Australian musician (Newsboys), 1966 (55)
There are others, including Pink, born in 1979, but think it fitting to leave this portion with "All God's children singing 'Glory, glory!'"

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
(Luke 2:36-38 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that C continues to improve and is getting around marvelously, post-surgery
2. that You have opened my lips to speak and sing Your praises
3. that I am alive and breathing
4. that You are able
5. for hope

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIXTEEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

GOD is good, a hiding place in tough times. He recognizes and welcomes anyone looking for help,
(Nahum 1:7 MSG)

I pause during this quiet moment to simply reflect on God’s hand in everything that has happened in our lives in the past month. It is a picture of divine grace.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of David.

Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.

Answer me, LORD, out of the goodness of your love; in your great mercy turn to me. Do not hide your face from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in trouble. Come near and rescue me; deliver me because of my foes.
(Psalms 69:1-3, 16-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

When you have entered the land the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance and have taken possession of it and settled in it, take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the LORD your God is giving you and put them in a basket. Then go to the place the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his Name and say to the priest in office at the time, “I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God. Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him.
(Deuteronomy 26:1-10 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s presence in this place, I meditate on these passages, asking the Holy Spirit to direct me deeper into His presence.

Who among has not felt like David, in the first three verses of Psalm 69? We feel like the flood-waters have risen up to our necks. In fact, it is common to say that we were “up to our necks” in whatever trouble we find ourselves in.

We are sinking, we can get no foothold. We become worn out, crying for help. Not only can we not see God, we can’t see anything else, either. We feel as though we are totally engulfed in darkness.

As long as we continue to call out to God, we will survive. Eventually, the waters will recede. God will answer, out of the goodness of His love (as well as for His own Name’s sake). He will not hide His face from us. He will rescue us and deliver us from our “foes.”

What are our foes? They might be any number of things. Financial troubles, health issues, worry, despair, temptations and sin, doubt. For any given person, they can be different at any given moment.

I remain fully persuaded that our God is able to deliver us from all of our troubles.

He is able to deliver thee,
He is able to deliver thee;
Though by sin oppressed, go to Him for rest;
“Our God is able to deliver thee.”

Here’s another, more recent song, of which I am quite fond.

He is able more than able
To accomplish what concerns me today
He is able more than able
To handle anything that comes my way
He is able more than able
To do much more than I could ever dream
He is able more than able
To make me what He wants me to be

Just remember the Israelites, stuck in Egypt. In our passage from Deuteronomy, verses 6-7, we seen Israel crying out to the Lord over their mistreatment by the Egyptians. The Lord delivered them “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm.” He is able.

Father, I praise You that, no matter what concerns me today, or what circumstances come my way, You are able. I don’t even need to put anything after “able” in that sentence, because, whatever it is, You are able. I praise You for Your obvious hand in all that has occurred in our lives since the end of July. I give You praise that the school bus driving job didn’t turn out. Things are much better, the way they are, and You orchestrated this, I am fully persuaded! So all praise and glory to You. Keep that in my mind, whenever things look troublesome, or aren’t working out the way we think they should. Help us remember that, while we can’t see the end of things, You can, because You are already there.

"Giver of every good gift,
offering You the firstfruits of what I make and produce is a good spiritual discipline that helps my heart wriggle free from the grip of my possessions and rest content.
Keep me in that freedom,
a radically generous life that joyfully furthers the good of Your kingdom.
In the name of Jesus,
amen."

BLESSING

“Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:29-30 MSG)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
(Romans 15:13 NIV)

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:1-5 NIV)

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
(Romans 8:25 NIV)

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!

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

My Heart Is Stirred

Today is Sunday, the fifteenth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,166

Only four more days until S’s birthday! Might be time to start wrapping presents. Or bagging them, as the case may be.

Not much happened, to speak of, yesterday. We got all the groceries, and C and S got their platelets donated, which took a really long time. One slight hiccup in the day was that Walmart gave us one bag of seeded grapes, in place of one of the six bags of seedless grapes I ordered. I’m still trying to decide if it’s worth the trouble to return them.

We will be zooming today, for our church gathering, for which I am grateful. C and I had decided that we would not attend in person, as we do not believe it has been long enough. Plus, I believe there needs to be a conversation about gathering in the future, which two of the families having chosen to not receive the vaccine.

I’m sure there will be Applebee’s for lunch today, and I will, no doubt, make the traditional burgers for S and me, tonight, for dinner.

There might be a walk today, at some point, as the outside temp is only supposed to get to 89 degrees today.

Today is Relaxation Day, and I am totally cool with that. I plan to do a lot of that today.

The word for today is saltigrade, “moving by leaping.” My guess is that this came about because of the second definition, which is also an adjective, “belonging or pertaining to the family Salticidae, comprising the jumping spiders.”

Today’s quote, from Eleanor Roosevelt, is another about happiness: “Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.

And now for the birthdays.

1717 Blind Jack [John Metcalf], English 1st professional roadbuilder, born in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, England (d. 1810)
1769 Napoleon Bonaparte, French military leader and Emperor of the French (1804-14, 1815), born in Ajaccio, Corsica, France (d. 1821)
1771 Walter Scott, Scottish historical novelist and poet (The Lady of the Lake, Rob Roy), born in College Wynd, Edinburgh Scotland (d. 1832)
1879 Ethel Barrymore [Blythe], American classic film & stage actress (Constant Wife, Corn is Green), born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (d. 1959)
1885 Edna Ferber, American author and playwright (American Beauty, Cimarron), born in Kalamazoo, Michigan (d. 1968)
1890 Elizabeth Bolden, American Supercentenarian (oldest verified person in the world at the time of her death), born in Somerville, Tennessee (d. 2006)
1898 Lillian Carter, US President Jimmy Carter's (1977-1981) mom, born in Richland, Georgia (d. 1983)
1904 Bill Baird, American puppeteer (Kukla Fran & Ollie, Muppet Show), born in Grand Island, Nebraska (d. 1987)
1912 Julia Child, American chef, author and television personality (The French Chef), born in Pasadena, California (d. 2004)
1923 Rose Marie [Mazzetta], American actress, comedienne and singer (The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Doris Day Show), born in NYC, New York (d. 2017)
1933 Bobby Helms [Robert Lee Helms], American country music singer (Jingle Bell Rock), born in Bloomington, Indiana (d. 1997)
1941 Don Rich, American guitarist and country singer (Hee Haw), born in Olympia, Washington (d. 1974)
1946 Jimmy Webb, American singer and songwriter ("MacArthur Park"; "Up Up & Away"), born in Elk City, Oklahoma
1948 Tom Johnston, American guitarist and vocalist (The Doobie Brothers, 1970-77 & 1987-present - "Listen To The Music"; "China Grove"), born in Visalia, California
1949 Kate Taylor, American singer and songwriter ("It's In His Kiss"), born in Boston, Massachusetts (James Taylor's sister)
1950 Anne Elizabeth Alice Louise Windsor, second child and only daughter of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, born in Clarence House, London
1950 Tess Harper, American actress (Amityville 3D, Tender Mercies), born in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas
1954 Stieg Larsson [Karl Stig-Erland Larsson], Swedish author (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), born in Skelleftehamn, Sweden (d. 2004)
1955 Larry Mathews, actor (Ritchie-Dick Van Dyke Show), born in Burbank, California
1956 Peter-John Vettese, Scottish keyboardist (Jethro Tull, 1982-89), songwriter, arranger, and producer born in Scotland, United Kingdom
1964 Melinda Gates, American philanthropist and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, born in Dallas, Texas
1968 Debra Messing, American actress (Will & Grace), born in Brooklyn, New York
1972 Ben Affleck, American Academy Award winning screenwriter (Good Will Huntng), actor (Armageddon; Pearl Harbor), and BAFTA Award winning director (Argo),born in Berkeley, California
1974 Natasha Henstridge, Canadian actress (Species)
1978 Tim Foreman, American bassist (Switchfoot - "The Beautiful Letdown"), born in Lake Arrowhead, California
1978 Kerri Walsh, American beach volleyball player (Olympic gold 2004, 08, 12), born in Santa Clara, California
1989 Joe Jonas, American pop singer (Jonas Brothers), born in Casa Grande, Arizona
1990 Jennifer Lawrence, American actress (Winter's Bone, Silver Linings Playbook), born in Louisville, Kentucky

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High.
God dwells in that city; it cannot be destroyed. From the very break of day, God will protect it.
The nations are in chaos, and their kingdoms crumble! God’s voice thunders, and the earth melts!
The LORD of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress.
(Psalms 46:4-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for that river that brings joy to Your city, Your sacred Home;
2. that, though the nations are in chaos, You dwell here among, and are our fortress;
3. that the center of Your Model Prayer for us is forgiveness;
4. that I only have two jobs to do . . . love You and love people;
5. that You are working Your plan, and I don't have to.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK THIRTEEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
(Psalms 106:1 NIV)

I pause to meditate on Your presence among us, this morning; to consider that, even though outside appears chaotic and crumbling, You are in total control of everything, and Your plan is working out, moving to glory.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “Lilies.” Of the Sons of Korah. A maskil. A wedding song.

My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.

You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.

Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty.
In your majesty ride forth victoriously in the cause of truth, humility and justice; let your right hand achieve awesome deeds.
Let your sharp arrows pierce the hearts of the king’s enemies; let the nations fall beneath your feet.
Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.
(Psalms 45:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. When the LORD goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. When you enter the land that the LORD will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. The Israelites did just what the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron.
At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.
(Exodus 12:21-30 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, reading them again, I attempt to “dwell,” to rest in the presence of the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to move around me, within me. I have tried something different this morning. All other tabs on my Internet browser are closed as I go through this. No Facebook, no email, to distract me. Just this window, God’s Word, and the devotional books.

I confess that I have never quite known how to take this passage from Psalms. This particular one seems to be directed to the human king, at the time. It is also noted to be a wedding song.

Matthew Henry, however, seems to have no problem applying this psalm to King Jesus. And I suppose, upon reading it more closely, that this is reasonable. He is, after all, “the most excellent of men,” and His lips have been anointed with grace. In the book of Revelation, our King is seen with a sword coming out from between those lips.

There will be a time, in the future, when He will, indeed gird Himself with His sword by His side, riding out on that white horse, in victory, in majesty, in the cause of Truth. And His throne will last forever and ever.

So, in reading it like this, my heart is, indeed stirred by this noble theme, as the first verse declares.

In the Exodus passage, we see the Lord striking down every firstborn child in the land of Egypt, as the Passover occurs. There was loud wailing, “for there was not a house without someone dead.”

And that was the final straw, as it were. Pharaoh threw them out of his country, which is what the Lord wanted all along. In fact, they were told to hurry and leave, “for otherwise, we will all die!”

I’m not sure what I am supposed to take away from all of this, though.

Perhaps it hearkens back to the psalm that I chose for the beginning, before my gratitude list. As chaotic as the world around me seems to be, with everything seeming to crumble around us, I know that God is working His plan. I am not wringing my hands over circumstances, as a lot of people seem to be, even people who claim to believe that God is in control . . . their actions and words are not lining up with that “belief.”

God will act on His own behalf whenever necessary. He has a timeline, and we are not privy to it. As Jesus seemed to indicate, HE doesn’t even know, and He is part of the Trinity!

So great faith is required. Faith and patience; hope and trust. And love. Let us remember that we have two jobs to do: Love God and love people. Thank the heavens that neither one of those jobs has anything to do with making sure the world doesn’t cave in around us! In addition, neither job requires us to cleanse the world of evil, which some of Christ’s “followers” seem to think is their exclusive job.

Love God.

Love people.

And pray. And in that famous Model Prayer that we so often call “The Lord’s Prayer,” the center of it all is forgiveness.

We really need to let that all sink in.

Thank You, Father, that You are in control of all things. It is true that it appears that chaos reigns in the world around me; not just in this country, but all over the world. Things just seem to get worse and worse, and when has there been a generation that did not feel the same way?? So we just need to step back, take a deep breath, and realize that You are in control; You are in charge, not us! I am also grateful for that truth. We have already shown what a terrible job we do when we think we are in charge. You, however, are perfect in all of Your ways, and You are our “good, good Father.” All glory to You, my God and my King!

Lord, please give us resurrection hope and joy today, as we gather together in whatever form and fashion that Your Church meets. I pray that the worship that is lifted up to You in all churches will be glorious, this morning. Give us grace, strength, and opportunity to share the good news of the Gospel of the risen King Jesus!

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.

"Saving God,
in the Passover lamb you reveal a sketch of the gospel.
Thank you that in Jesus I have a fully developed picture and proclamation of the gospel.
As I read through the Bible,
open my heart and mind to know that the center of the whole story is Jesus,
that all the patriarchs and prophets,
the sacrifices and ceremonies,
point to him.
Amen."

BLESSING

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
(Psalms 16:11 NIV)

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.
(Hebrews 13:15 NIV)

speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,
(Ephesians 5:19 NIV)

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.'”
(Jonah 2:9 NIV)

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying: “‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,’ who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
(Revelation 4:8-11 NIV)

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!

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.

For Such A Time As This

Today is Thursday, the fifth of August, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,156

Fourteen days until S turns twenty-eight!

This afternoon/evening, should be fun. C and I will be attending the 4:00 PM match play event at the PWBA Go Bowling Classic, which is taking place at the International Training and Research Center (ITRC), adjacent to C’s work building. At this point, Dasha Kovalova, from Ukraine, is the front runner. The top twelve bowlers will be participating in Match Play during two sessions, today, one at 11:00 and one at 4:00. Then the top four will participate in the step-ladder finals, tonight at 8:00 PM. We may stay for that, as well. In the finals, there will be three matches, with the winner of each one advancing until the final match, where the winner will be the tournament champion.

I am not taking my car in for the repair, this morning. C talked me into rescheduling to next Friday (the thirteenth) so she can follow me there and bring me back home, since she works from home on Fridays.

I have also scheduled an exam for our new kitty, Cleopatra, which will take place Monday at noon. I will probably go ahead and get her shots at that appointment, and then discuss spaying and microchipping for a future date.

I think the equipment for my new sleep study will be shipped today. They said it would be coming UPS, so hopefully, I will get it this weekend.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him;
the LORD protects him and keeps him alive; he is called blessed in the land; you do not give him up to the will of his enemies.
The LORD sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.
(Psalms 41:1-3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the ministry of prayer and the encouragement it brings to others;
2. for the true believers who consider the poor in our world;
3. for Your protection over us, and Your deliverance from all trouble and afflictions;
4. that You continually manifest Your love to those who make effort to know You;
5. that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purpose.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY FIVE

INVITATION

The way to become wise is to honor the LORD; he gives sound judgment to all who obey his commands. He is to be praised forever.
(Psalms 111:10 GNB)

I quiet my heart before You, O Lord, recognizing Your presence in this place, as You dwell around me and within me. Let Your Holy Spirit reign in me as I continue into Your Word.

BIBLE SONG

Your love, LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house; you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.

Continue your love to those who know you, your righteousness to the upright in heart.
(Psalms 36:5-10 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.
So Joseph went after his brothers and found them near Dothan. But they saw him in the distance, and before he reached them, they plotted to kill him.
Judah said to his brothers, “What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.
So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
(Genesis 37:3-4, 17b-18, 26-28 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I strive to be aware of the presence of God, attempting to drive away distractions and temptations. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through.

I take note, this morning, of a little sentence in verse 6 of Psalm 36. “You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.” While humanity is the crown of God’s creation, He cares for the whole of creation. Animals are not, as some mistakenly think, equal to humans in any way. They are not as important, yet they are precious to God.

I am also drawn to the phrase in verse 10, “Continue your love to those who know you.” I like the way Peterson paraphrases this in The Message: “Keep on loving your friends.” As I indicated up there in my gratitude list, it takes effort to know God. While some of the knowledge of God comes from His revelation to us, it still takes effort on our part to know Him. And, while He loves all of creation, I believe that He has a deeper love for those who at least try to know Him.

In the Genesis passage, we see God continuing to work through some really strange circumstances, and, once again, flawed people. I’ve already mentioned, recently, how arrogant Joseph was. But it’s not all his fault, you see. This arrogance was encouraged by the blatant favoritism of his father, Jacob (later known as Israel). And that favoritism was because Joseph was one of the two sons born of Jacob’s favorite wife, Rachel.

Because of the favoritism, and because of Joseph’s arrogance, his brothers hated him. At first, they wanted to kill him. This astonishes me, actually. I mean, I have seriously disliked some people in my life. But to so casually speak of killing a person is unthinkable.

Reuben at least had a tiny bit of rationality and stopped that plot. But the rest of the brothers, led by Judah this time, continued down their treacherous path and agreed to sell Joseph to some slave traders that just happened to be passing by.

I don’t even know what to say about this. But if you keep reading, you see that the slave traders then sold Joseph to the captain of the guard of the Pharaoh of Egypt. If you know the story, you know that Joseph, being blessed by God, rose up through the ranks to a position of great authority in Egypt. But more on that in coming days (yes, I peeked ahead).

Rewind to an entry from a few days ago. I named it after a Rich Mullins song, “Who God Is Gonna Use.” Today’s could just as well be named, “How God Is Gonna Act.” We never know what means God is going to use in order to accomplish His purpose. Man cannot thwart the plans of God. He will try, but will always fail. In all honesty, I don’t even think man can delay the plans of God. But I do know the truth of Romans 8:28. All things do work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose.

We would do well, however, to remember that there is a second part to that verse, that bit about being called according to His purpose. Sometimes, things just happen. We often hear it said, “Everything happens for a reason.” For the most part, I think I agree with that, as I am not a big believer in “chance” or “luck.” But I do think that, sometimes, things just happen. Not every single event that comes to pass is part of God’s ultimate plan. For example. I just took a sip of Crazy Water. Did that happen for a reason?

Probably not . . . but Joseph was sold into slavery for a reason, and we will find that out by the end of this week.

Father, I am in awe of Your enormous grace and mercy, seemingly infinite and endless. We do see, sometimes, in the Bible, however, that Your mercy does have limits. I pray that we would never reach those limits in our dealings with You. I also pray that we would look at our lives and see You at work in them. I believe that I do love You; I believe that, in spite of my sinfulness, I have made efforts to know You, and that, as a result of this, You continue Your love for me. On the other hand, I also believe that there is nothing I can do that can cause You to love me either less or more than You already do. That will sound contradictory to some, but I don’t really care. It is both simple and complicated, all at the same time.

I thank You for the example of Joseph, and how You worked in his life and arranged circumstances for him to be in the right place at the right time. I love to see how You work with the flawed people of the Old Testament, because it gives me assurance that You can work through me, as well. Help us, Father, to care for our world the way You do, but also help us to not get things out of order and in the wrong perspective. Help us remember that people, souls, are the most important piece, but that creation matters, too.

May You give us a deeper understanding of the Gospel of Christ. May we experience the fulness of our adoption as Your children. And may we, Your people, Your Church, fully repent of racism, and may we strive for racial reconciliation in our country and in our world.

"Merciful God,
when I'm tempted to be envious or jealous,
when I insult or hate my neighbor by words or deeds,
looks or gestures,
reveal my murderous heart and lead me to repentance and reconciliation before I do any harm.
Amen."

BLESSING

May mercy, peace, and love be yours in full measure.
(Jude 1:2 GNB)

One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
(Luke 18:1 NLT)

When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long.
(Psalms 32:3 NLT)

Give your burdens to the LORD, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.
(Psalms 55:22 NLT)

Those who are wise will shine as bright as the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness will shine like the stars forever.
(Daniel 12:3 NLT)

“Go and gather together all the Jews of Susa and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will do the same. And then, though it is against the law, I will go in to see the king. If I must die, I must die.”
(Esther 4:16 NLT)

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
(Matthew 10:39 NLT)

Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless.
(Philippians 2:16 NLT)

Father, help me to not cling to my life, but to live it in such a way as to be a blessing to others with it. I am here, in this place, at this time, for Your purposes. Show me the path to righteousness and meaning. May Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

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!

“Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” 
(Esther 4:14b NLT)

Grace and peace, friends.

“All My Fountains Are in You”

Today is Monday, the twenty-sixth of April, 2021, in the fourth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,055

Thirteen days until Mother’s Day

There was more good discussion, yesterday morning, on the Psalms, and we didn’t get through Psalm 25. 24 didn’t take very long, as it is pretty straightforward, but 25 has a lot in it, and we only got through a few verses. Since this coming Sunday is my turn, I believe I will start up where we left off, and see if there is any more discussion on Psalm 25.

As expected, we picked up our Applebee’s and Sonic on the way home, and C had to get right to work to try to suss out problems with their apps at the Women’s Championship tournament in Reno, as well as work on getting things ready for next Friday’s beginning of the big Open Championship in Las Vegas. There was significant progress made, yesterday, I believe, which is good. She still has a tension tightness in head, neck, and shoulders, though, from all of this. It is still undetermined whether she will have to make a trip to Vegas, this coming weekend.

I got in here and practiced a little more, yesterday afternoon, playing three songs in preparation for a Facebook live event, time and date TBD. But I now have three songs on my set list.

We had steaks and corn on the cob again, last night, for dinner, cooked with the sous vide. The corn comes out amazing. This time, it was very tender. I cooked for ninety minutes instead of sixty, and I think that made the corn better. The steak did not cook any more than it does at sixty, because it is all temperature based. It was all delicious, and pretty darned easy.

Back to work, this morning, but not before centering my mind on things above.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
(Psalms 50:23 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for the things You are doing in my life right now; leading me somewhere, I know not where, but if You are leading, I want to follow; I want to go there
  • for music and worship; teach me a new song
  • that I am alive and awake
  • that Your timing is perfect, and this applies to everything
  • that “all my fountains are in You”
  • for this daily “tent of meeting”

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

EASTER – DAY 23

INVITATION

“Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
(Ephesians 5:14 NIV)

I pause briefly, at this point, to ponder the light of Christ shining upon me (and us . . . the Church).

BIBLE SONG

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.

He has founded his city on the holy mountain.
The LORD loves the gates of Zion more than all the other dwellings of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you, city of God:
“I will record Rahab and Babylon among those who acknowledge me—
Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—
and will say,
‘This one was born in Zion.'”
Indeed, of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her,
and the Most High himself will establish her.”
The LORD will write in the register of the peoples:
“This one was born in Zion.”

As they make music they will sing, “All my fountains are in you.”
(Psalms 87:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
(John 10:7-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I quietly enjoy being with God, this morning, I read these passages again, pondering whatever connects with my heart and mind. I invite the Holy Spirit to direct my mind and thoughts to what He desires for me.

I am immediately intrigued by the phrase in verse 7 of Psalm 87, “All my fountains are in you.” What does this mean?

I will say, right off the bat, that I’m not sure. So everything that follows is pure speculation (or maybe meditation). The context is Zion. “The LORD loves the gates of Zion,” it says. The idea of names being written in a book, saying, “This one was born in Zion,” recurs three times! That, as we know, is significant.

Zion, of course, is the city of God. Historically, it is Jerusalem. Futuristically, I believe it to be the “new Jerusalem,” which we will see coming down from heaven at the end of days. That will be Zion for us.

When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus, He told him that a person has to be “born again,” which, when literally translated, means “born from above.” Therefore, I believe it can be said that all of us who are “born from above,” are in that book that says, “This one was born in Zion.”

As all of us who have been “born in Zion” make music, our song will be “All my fountains are in you.” Is “you” God, or is “you” Zion? The answer to that question might be, “yes.” Maybe it’s both.

“Fountains” and “springs” in Scripture represent life and blessing. We who believe will have a river of life flowing out of us. What does a fountain do? It sprays water everywhere! It gushes! It’s like an explosion of water, and some of them (like the famous Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas) spray hundreds of feet into the sky.

All of my life, all of my blessings, my fountains, my springs, my river of life, are found in Zion! They exist in God, and they are sustained by Him.

Father, I praise You for the fountains of life that spring up from You, and from Zion, whence I have been born. I thank You for the life that I have in You. May it ever increase; may I know it more fully today than I did yesterday, and even more tomorrow. You must increase, while I decrease. Teach me that path of humility, Father, as I live and breathe and walk in You. I pray to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

Shepherding God,
if left to me,
my faith would flounder and I would undoubtedly be lost and wandering.
Thank you that my salvation rests on your undeserved mercy and unfailing promises.
I am kept and protected because you have laid down your life for me.
Amen.
(Canons of Dort 5.8)

BLESSING

Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
(Hebrews 13:20-21 NIV)

I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
(Philippians 3:14 NLT)

My son, pay attention to my wisdom; listen carefully to my wise counsel. Then you will show discernment, and your lips will express what you’ve learned.
(Proverbs 5:1-2 NLT)

You can make many plans, but the LORD’s purpose will prevail.
(Proverbs 19:21 NLT)

Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NLT)

“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them. You must build this Tabernacle and its furnishings exactly according to the pattern I will show you.”
(Exodus 25:8-9 NLT)

But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
(Matthew 6:6 NLT)

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
(Matthew 6:33 NLT)

Father, I thank You for this daily “tent of meeting,” in this little room in our house. I thank You for the house; we have a good roof over our heads, something not everyone has. We have walls to protect us from the elements of outside, something not everyone has. Give us humility as we acknowledge these, Your gifts and blessings to us. Help us to be more generous in sharing these gifts and blessings. May we become more hospitable, opening our doors to those who need to be allowed in. May we live our lives in Your presence, knowing that there is no hurry, because Your timing is perfect. Help us to seek Your kingdom first, above all else. And remind us that You are our Shepherd, and we have all that we need.

Lord, may You give us the capacity to see You in all things, “every creature a word or book” from You. I pray for concerns that spread throughout the world about our environment. While it is not the most important thing for us to pray about, it is is, nevertheless, important. May You give special care today to all who serve in forests, farms, and on the oceans.

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!

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.

My Source and Destination

Today is Thursday, the eleventh of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,981

Only six more days until Ash Wednesday, beginning of Lent

As expected, it is twenty-four degrees outside, this morning. When I looked outside, right after waking up, there was nothing on the cars or roads. However, there is a light snow falling, at this moment. Hopefully, this will not affect my morning drive.

Based on the severity of the forecast, and that we are looking at not being above freezing from late Friday night until sometime Wednesday afternoon, C decided, as she was already awake, to head to our local Winco and stock up on groceries. The current climate (not speaking weather, here) of sensationalism and over-reactionism would lead us to believe that grocery stores shelve might be looking sparse by the end of the week (if not already).

A stretch of freezing weather/potential snow like this, in the DFW area, has not been seen for many years. We don’t react well to “real” winter. I’m already thinking I might not be going to work at least one day, next week. But I’m also praying that the snow misses us.

Speaking of praying . . .

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

This new day You give to me
From Your great eternity
This new day now enfold
Me in Your loving hold

You are the star of the morn
You are the day newly born
You are the light of our night
You are the Savior by Your might

God be in me this day
God ever with me stay
God be in the night
Keep us by Thy light
God be in my heart
God abide, never depart.
(David Adam)

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.
(Psalms 55:22 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  • For people who help my mother with things like furnace fans going out
  • For my health, thus far
  • That with You, there is no “point of no return”
  • For my decades long relationship with the Holy Trinity
  • That You are my Source and my Destination

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 37

INVITATION

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.
(Psalms 68:19-20 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth while in the presence of the wicked.”
So I remained utterly silent, not even saying anything good. But my anguish increased; my heart grew hot within me. While I meditated, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, LORD, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

“Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom; in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.
(Psalms 39:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
(Mark 2:18-22 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

I’ve always grappled with the last part of this passage in Mark. What did Jesus mean with all of this talk about wine and wineskins?

I consulted Matthew Henry on this, this morning, and he gave me some insight. Jesus’s disciples had been with Him but a short time, possibly not even a year. In face, He had not yet even appointed the Twelve, if we can assume that Mark’s gospel is written in chronological order.

The point is, these were, if you will, “new converts.” They were new wineskins, “unshrunk cloth.” To try to fit them into the mold of the “old garment” would be disruptive, and might even drive them away.

Growing up Baptist, I saw a lot of this kind of thing happen. People would join the church, get “saved,” but then would immediately get hit with all of these rules and requirements. Many would not last, they would fade away and drop out.

Personally, I’m “old cloth.” I’ve been a part of this scene for nigh on sixty years. I was baptized when I was nine years old, but was in church, I’m pretty sure, as soon as my mother could get me there. I was on the “cradle roll.” I’m a “lifer.”

That being said, I’ve been reading/studying the Bible since I was old enough to read. The Bible has been my favorite book for as long as I can remember. I have always had a love for God’s Word.

But nobody tried to get me to fast when I was a child. That would be kind of ridiculous.

In the same way, Jesus defended the fact that His disciples were not fasting. In fact, they may have been doing the opposite. Henry assumes that this question came while Jesus was partying at Levi’s (Matthew) house, with other tax collectors and “sinners.” Judging from the way Mark wrote, I’m not sure that this is necessarily so, but it would certainly fit.

The teaching for us, I believe, is that we should not lay things to heavily on the backs of new believers. Let’s not try to get new converts to fast right away. Let’s not try to teach them Lectio Divina during their first week of Christianity. Let them learn the basics. And let them enjoy their newfound faith and relationship with their Savior.

Father, I thank You for my relationship with You over these decades. Certainly, it has not been a smooth ride. I have strayed from the path, many times, sometimes almost to the point of no return. However, with You, there is no “point of no return,” and for that I am also grateful, eternally grateful. I pray that You would keep us, Your Church, mindful of the tenderness and vulnerability of new believers, that we would allow them to bask for a bit in their new-found faith, and enjoy themselves with great joy, before we start laying things like Spiritual Disciplines on them.

"Spotless Savior,
I worship you because 
I have no righteousness but yours.
I am complete in you because of your merits;
I have the full acceptance of the Father
because of all you have done for me
in the cross,
taking my place.
Grow in me a deep faith where 
I'm kept in close communion with you,
always aware of my true identity in you.
Amen."
(Belgic Confession 22)

BLESSING

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
(Jeremiah 31:3 NIV)

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NLT)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
(Revelation 21:5-7 NLT)

All of this talk about “new.” But, in a sense, none of this is new at all. “It is the same new thing that God did at the beginning when he said, ‘Let there be light’ (Genesis 1:3).”

It’s the same new thing that happened when the Spirit came over Saul the King and gave him a new heart, or when people exclaimed about Jesus, “What is this? A new teaching!” (Mark 1:27).

Likewise, when Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again (anew; from above).”

By “new,” we do not mean “the latest fashion, fad, or novel.”

What we do mean is “essential life, our encounter with God, the receiving of grace so that our lives can finally be lived without guilt and with steady purpose.” This is new. “It is that which can never be antiquated. It is that which puts into obsolescence all other experience and knowledge.”

Through this, we become the new creation of which Paul speaks in 2 Corinthians 5:17. And that new is perpetually new. Remember, in our Revelation passage, God speaks in present tense. He is still making all things new!

He identifies Himself as Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End. Alpha and Omega (but you surely know this) are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. In our language (American English), it would be “A and Z.”

But “Beginning and End” does not necessarily limit itself to “first and last.” It is true that God “got things started and he will be around at the finish.”

But we should look at “beginning” as more like the “source and origin – the basic substratum underlying all things. . . . God is that out of which everything proceeds and exists.” He is also at the “end,” meaning that “he is the destination of all things.” That is the actual meaning of the Greek word, telos, which is the word we see as “end.” “His being is the fulfilled purpose for which all things exist.”

(From This Hallelujah Banquet, by Eugene H. Peterson)

In Matthew 14, Jesus fed five thousand-plus people with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish. How did He accomplish this? The answer is in verse 19.

And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.
(Matthew 14:19 NIV)

He gave thanks. “Giving thanks is crucial to a life of fullness and blessing. On top of that, it also gives you the power to perform the miracle of multiplication.

“You don’t look at how little you have or how big your problem is or how impossible the situation is. You don’t panic, you don’t complain [ouch], and you don’t get discouraged over not having enough. You take the little you have, whatever good there is, no matter how small or inadequate it is, and you do what Messiah did. You lift it up to the Lord and you give thanks for it. And the blessings you have will multiply, if not in the world, then in your heart. The more you give thanks, the less you will hunger, and the more full and blessed your life will be.”

The Mission: Stop seeking more and stop living in the realm of ‘not enough.’ Today, practice giving thanks for everything. Perform the act of multiplication.”

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
(Matthew 14:14-21 NIV)

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
(1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV)

(From The Book of Mysteries, by Jonathan Cahn)

Father, I praise You that, so long ago, You led me to begin my daily gratitude. I do believe that I have seen this principle of “multiplication” take place as I have practiced this discipline. And I will continue to do so. Some days, like today, it is easier than other days. Some days, I have to think harder to come up with even five things for which I am grateful. Yet I do manage to do it. I am grateful for everything that You have given me, no matter how small or how big. Keep my heart grateful, Lord, and should it begin to take things for granted, go ahead and smack me.

I am also thankful for this thought that You are my Source and my Destination. These are ideas that don’t come naturally to us, and I am grateful to Eugene Peterson for pointing out these deeper meanings of “beginning and end.” All glory to You, Lord!

I praise You and thank You, this morning, for the beauty that I experience with all of my senses; for colors, for music, for the beauty of creation, for things that I can touch, smell, and taste. Help me to always be grateful for these blessings, savoring them, and not taking them for granted.

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!

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.