Love Extravagantly

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

Today is Tuesday, the fifth of April, 2022, in the fifth week of Lent.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,399

We had some “weather” last night. Thunderstorms rolled through a bit later than originally expected, hitting us late in the evening, and going on until around 11:00 PM or so. As far as I know, we just got heavy rain and wind. I never heard any hail and didn’t see evidence of anything else. But it rained quite a bit. There were tornado warnings southeast of us.

I don’t have much on my agenda today. I’ll go out and get Subway for lunch for S, Mama, and me, and will include dinner for them and C, because I will be at work this evening, from 4:15-8:15. Typical Tuesday, in other words. I’m also really close to finishing my current read, an ARC of When Earth Shall Be No More, a science fiction novel by Paul Awad and Kathryn O’Sullivan. I’m 92% through, and, unless something drastic happens, I can already tell you it’s getting a five-star rating. I’ll also try to get in an episode or two of The Stand miniseries.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you.”
(Luke 6:27-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the rain received last night, and that we had no damage from the storms
2. for the "golden rule"
3. that our Father delights in us, and surrounds us with His shield
4. that God gives me songs to glorify Him in thanksgiving
5. for the hope and ability to love extravagantly

Today’s prayer word is “favor.” That’s a dangerous word, there, and I feel it is misused by many. But let’s see the referenced Scripture verse.

Surely, LORD, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
(Psalms 5:12 NIV)

This is also a word that is dependent upon a particular translation of the Bible. NIV has “favor,” ESV has “favor,” and KJV also has “favour.” But the NLT says this:

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.
(Psalms 5:12 NLT)

And here is The Message:

You are famous, GOD, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight.
(Psalms 5:12 MSG)

Interestingly, when I look at “KJV+” in my Bible app, it shows that the Hebrew word translated as “favor” in most translations can also mean “delight.” Well-played, Mr. Peterson.

My problem with the word “favor” is that, to many people, it indicates “special treatment.” Even the writer of the reading, the ubiquitous “Bob,” says, “Even so, I beg for Him to single me out and toss me a rose, so to speak.” (You would have to read the rest of the reading for that rose bit to make sense.)

I’m not comfortable with that. I’m not comfortable asking God to single me out. It’s like asking Him to help me “win.” Of course, I want to win. Who doesn’t? But the Christian life isn’t about “winning.” It’s about sacrifice and giving.

Side note: Part of my dislike of the concept of the word has to do with one particular person who, when asked a simple greeting question that we all usually ask one another, “How are you?”, would respond with, “Blessed and highly favored.” Ugh.

So when I think of the word “favor,” or “delight,” I see God delighting in all of His people! In the NIV, it is the “righteous” who are surrounded by God’s favor, or decked out in delight, as The Message says. “The righteous” is a group of people. It is all of the followers of Jesus.

I will, occasionally, pray for favor, but not so much for myself. I might pray for someone to find favor when going for a job interview or something like that. But I prefer to think of this one more in terms of “delight,” as Peterson rendered it. God, our Father, delights in us, in all of us! And, in that way, He shows US favor.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.
(1 Chronicles 29:13 NIV)

I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
(Psalms 69:30 NIV)

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalms 100:4-5 NIV)

My regular readers will note that I have a gratitude list up at the top of the devotional section each day. There are always at least five things, sometimes more. This has been a practice of mine for several years, now, and it launched out of dissatisfaction upon seeing people suddenly get thankful because it was November.

That’s the month in which Thanksgiving occurs in the United States, for my readers who live in other countries. I find it somewhat . . . I don’t know what the word is . . . it’s not “hypocritical,” necessarily. But it chafes me that people who grumble and complain the other eleven months of the year are suddenly all thankful for thirty days.

So I took that and ran with it, and kept it going, and have done it ever since. Every day. It’s not for show; it’s not to appear “religious;” it is not to appear more “favored.” It is to inspire others to be thankful. It is to display an attitude that, even in the toughest of times, I can find something for which to be thankful. Some days, it is hard to come up with five things. Other days, it is hard to keep it to only five. Because frequently I find that I have the same mindset of the composer of Psalm 23. “My cup overflows.”

At some point, a few months ago, I decided to wade into the murky waters of TikTok, and I started publishing a short video of my gratitude, where I read the Scripture passage that is before my gratitude list, along with the points of gratitude. I also post the list on Facebook, as well as a daily post asking, “What can I pray for you today?”

Again, I want to be clear: I am not “tooting my own horn,” here. I am not attempting to look like I’m super-spiritual. I am anything but super-spiritual. I sin; I fall short; I do grumble, much more than I should; I forget about the many blessings that I have in my life (see yesterday’s blog). But in my imperfect state, I want others to see that you don’t have to be perfect; we just have two jobs to do, you know. Love God and love people. You can make that as complicated as you want, but it still boils down to those two jobs. And that’s what I’m trying to do.

In today’s reading, Shawnelle Eliason (one of my favorites) writes this prayer. “Lord, forgive me when grumbling lives where gratitude should. Amen.” I heartily echo that plea.

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

And to kind of go along with what I said up there about the two jobs, here is this from Eugene Peterson:

“We do not qualify as biblical simply by quoting the Bible.
“We are biblical only when we share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall, when we carry the cross of Jesus, and when we love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I thank You for making me grateful. Yes, I am grateful that I am grateful. But it is because You have placed that spirit of gratitude within me. I could never do that by myself. Everything I do, at least anything that is positive and worthwhile, comes from You.

I praise You that we, Your people, are covered by Your delight. Yes, You “favor” us, You delight in us. But let us not get all selfish and self-centered about that delight, because it is not about me, an individual. It is about us, Your people, the saints, the Church, the Body of Christ. As an individual, I have a place to fill in that Body, so I pray for the ability to fill that place. I do not pray to be singled out, to be thrown a “rose,” or to receive special favors. I don’t want that. But I do desire to know that delight that You have for all of us, and I desperately want to pass that delight along to others.

Which brings me to that last bit. Lord, help me to be truly “biblical,” in the sense that I “share life in the wilderness with those who are tempted and fall,” that I can successfully carry the cross of Jesus (which, no doubt, means different things for each of us), and that I can “love extravagantly in Jesus’s name.” That last one, to me, is the most important and the most desirable.

Help me, O my Father, to love extravagantly.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

"Love one another;
This is how they know you're Mine;
Love one another."
(Inspired by John 13:34-35)

Grace and peace, friends.

Larry Norman can be heard on this song.

He Delights in You

Today is Sunday, the first of August, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,152

Eighteen days until S’s birthday

We had a nice day, yesterday, albeit a shorter visit than usual.

C needed to do some work, so we had a choice. Either we needed to get home so she could get logged in by 4:00 PM, or we could stay in Mineral Wells, but we would have to be there until at least 5:00 PM. We elected to go ahead and leave, which was a tough choice.

It is likely that we won’t see R & J again before they leave for Indiana. They close on their house this week, and will be heading out next Saturday morning. They will be driving the distance on Saturday, carrying their two cats along with them.

We had a great lunch, though, from Natty Flat Smokehouse, there in Mineral Wells. It is another BBQ place, but I have decided that I believe it is the best restaurant in town. I had pulled pork and jalapeno sausage, along with a side of chili, and it was all delicious.

C is also working, already, this morning. It is her company’s year end/beginning, so there are many tasks that must be completed in their IT systems.

We will not be having our church gathering again, this morning. For the sake of privacy, I will not go into why, but the family who hosts our gatherings is having a health concern, at the moment. So we will be praying for them.

I have a “busy” day tomorrow, for my first real day of retirement. Tomorrow morning, I will go try to get the fingerprinting done for the bus driving job, and then I have the interview with the Hurst library at 2:00 PM. That’s really all that is on my schedule for tomorrow. I do plan to get in some house cleaning, and probably some laundry, as well. Whatever I can do to help take some of the load off of my wife, especially until I land a part time job.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
(Psalms 40:5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for a wonderful visit with family, yesterday;
2. for the wondrous deeds you have multiplied to us, and Your gracious thoughts toward us;
3. that You delight in me;
4. that You surround me with songs of deliverance;
5. for mercy, peace, and love in abundance.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY ONE

INVITATION

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise.
(Psalms 111:10 NIV)

I pause, briefly, to reflect on wisdom and the precepts of the Lord, wondering if I do, indeed, have good understanding. I offer up my praise to the one to whom all praise belongs.

BIBLE SONG

Of David. A maskil.

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them.
You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:1-7 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD.
The LORD said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.
(Genesis 25:21-26 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I remind myself that I am in the presence of the Lord, I read these passages, slowly, reflecting on the precepts found therein. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me through the reading, leading me into truth, drawing me into closer fellowship with the Holy Trinity.

My transgressions are forgiven, and my sins are more than covered, they are erased. Therefore, I am blessed. The Lord does not count my sin against me, and I certainly endeavor to make sure that there is no deceit in my spirit. Therefore, I am blessed.

We cannot hide anything from the Lord, as He knows all things. He is not surprised by anything we do, say, or think. He knows all. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So while my actions or thoughts may, at times, surprise me, they do not surprise Him.

And He loves me anyway. He does not count these things against me because of the work of Jesus Christ, which this psalmist did not know, yet, when he wrote this song.

When we acknowledge our guilt before Him, there is a fresh release . . . a feeling that is indescribable. He forgives us. And because of this, the psalmist encourages all people to pray to the Lord, while He may yet be found.

And then, in verse 7, this sweetness:

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.
(Psalms 32:7 NIV)

I am surrounded with songs of deliverance. “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You,” goes the worship song by Elyssa Smith of Upper Room. The result of this surrounding is peace and joy, the pervasive sense of well-being, the knowledge that things in the Kingdom of God are far better than we could ever imagine.

Consider the words of Zephaniah 3:17.

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
(Zephaniah 3:17 NIV)

“He will take great delight in you.”

I want to encourage you, just as I am doing right this moment, to soak that in. Just sit for a moment . . . read that sentence over and over. Say it to yourself, “He delights in me.” The LORD God is with you, and He delights in you!

Father, it is easy to echo the words of the psalmist, who said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” (Psalms 139:6 NIV) To sit here, this morning, and let Your songs of deliverance wash over me, and to know, deep in my soul and spirit, that You delight in me, is almost more than I can handle. I can only imagine that the feeling I am experiencing must be similar to that sense of security, love, and warmth that an unborn baby feels in its mother’s womb. Total protection, not a care in the world, as I know that You are taking care of me. My sins are forgiven, they have been washed away. You are my hiding place. In You, I rest in a place where my enemy cannot touch me, where YOUR enemy cannot touch me. Hallelujah!

May resurrection hope and joy fill my soul, this morning, along with all others who will be worshiping You, today, either in a group setting or by themselves. We are never alone when we are with You. May You give us the inspiration and strength, the motivation, to share the good news of the living Christ within our own little world.

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.

"Surprising God,
your electing love upends the ways I expect things to unfold.
I admit I have little clue about the mystery of your choices,
and explanations outrun my understanding.
Humble me to rest in your good pleasure,
the grace from beyond time that guards and guides my life and this world.
Amen."

BLESSING

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
(Jude 1:2 NIV)

“O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!”
(Jeremiah 32:17 NLT)

For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
(Romans 1:20 NLT)

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
(Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalms 139:13-16 ESV)

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!

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!
(1 Chronicles 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Delight

Today is Monday, the twenty-eighth of June, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,118

Six days until July 4th!

So it’s Monday, again, and we go back to work, but only for four days, before a long weekend! I think I’ve mentioned that I’m taking PTO Friday, and Monday is our official fourth of July holiday. So a four day weekend is coming up!

There are no big plans, though. C will be continuing her kitchen cabinet remodel project. I will meet up with an old friend on Friday morning, for coffee, and then I will try to schedule a recall repair on my Honda CR-V for Saturday. Sunday, we will be in Mineral Wells, attending church with my mother, and Monday, there are no plans at all.

We had a great church gathering, yesterday morning, of the Church that Meets at Brandon and Kristin’s. We spent much time praying for one another, and managed to read through Psalm 33. Good fellowship, good prayer, good Bible reading, and the Supper.

There are serious talks about having a Night of Worship soon.

The Texas Rangers swept the KC Royals, over the weekend! That’s pretty huge, considering the way they have been playing, lately. Of course, they are still far down in the cellar, last place, eighteen games out of first. Their next game is tomorrow, in Oakland.

The Red Sox also enjoyed a sweep, over the weekend, taking three games from the division-rival Yankees. According to their web site, it’s the second time they have swept New York this season! The Red Sox are, unlike the Rangers, in first place, a half game ahead of the Rays.

The San Francisco Giants are enjoying being the best team in MLB, at the moment, being the first team to reach 50 wins. The Arizona Diamondbacks are not enjoying (maybe?) being the worst team, with a 22-57 record. That’s the team S and I will see play the Rangers on July 28, as we attend Globe Life Field for the first time since it has opened.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Let nothing disturb you,
let nothing frighten you,
all things will pass away.
God never changes;
patience obtains all things,
whoever has God lacks nothing.
God alone suffices.

Amen.
(St. Teresa of Avila)

For the word of the LORD is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.
(Psalms 33:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the peace that comes in knowing that, having You, I lack nothing.
2. that Your word is upright, and You are infinitely faithful in Your workings.
3. that You delight in us (Psalm 149)!
4. that You will help me to live peaceably with all people.
5. that, by the power of Your Spirit, everything that I do CAN be done in love.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SIX – DAY TWO

INVITATION

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.”
(Daniel 2:20 NIV)

I pause to consider the name of the Lord, and the uprightness of His Word, thanking Him for the sufficiency of His provision and presence in my life. I acknowledge His presence right now and reach out to His Holy Spirit.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of his faithful people.
Let Israel rejoice in their Maker; let the people of Zion be glad in their King.
Let them praise his name with dancing and make music to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor and sing for joy on their beds.
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands,
to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples,
to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron,
to carry out the sentence written against them— this is the glory of all his faithful people.

Praise the LORD.
(Psalms 149:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.
(Hebrews 4:1-2 NIV)

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.
(Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me toward a word or phrase, teaching me something about my walk with Christ in His Kingdome. I enjoy His presence in this place.

Psalm 149 continues in the theme of praise and singing. This one begins with exuberance, calling for dancing and music with percussion (I believe that the “timbrel” is some sort of tambourine).

Look at verse 4, though. “For the LORD takes delight in his people.”

Have you ever considered the fact that the Lord delights in YOU?? I know some people that have so much delight in themselves that they have no problem figuring that God must delight in them, as well.

I’m not one of those, though. I struggle with self-appreciation. Not to the point of self-loathing, mind you. I just have never felt that I was all that special, in any category. I know that I am pretty darned good at a few things, but not to the point of self-glorification.

I am also greatly aware of my faults and shortcomings. I know my “pet sins” very well, and figure God must know those even better than me. So why would He delight in me? He who knows how many stars there are and calls them all by name. He who, as we read in Psalm 33 yesterday morning, breathed a word and created all of those stars.

Yet, here is a simple truth. He delights in you and me, because He delights in “His people.” So let us rejoice in that truth and embrace it! Not to the point that we become arrogant, mind you, but let His praise be on our lips, even as we lie on our beds. Our last thoughts every night should be praise, and we should awaken with praise on our lips, in the morning.

That’s a goal for me, for the rest of this week.

Father, the truth that You delight in me is a hard-to-grasp truth. I read it in Your Word, and because I read it in Your Word, my mind believes it. But my heart remains skeptical, wondering how on earth You could delight in me, with all my sin?? But then I remember that the blood of Christ has erased all my sin!! It has not just covered it; it has not just colored it red so You can’t see it when You look at us through “rose-colored glasses.”

My sin is . . . erased; eradicated; expunged; rubbed out; obliterated; bowdlerized!

How can I do anything but praise You in the face of that truth? And, Lord, I believe it, but help my unbelief!!

Lord of the Sabbath,
I can faithfully observe a day of rest and yet miss its point.
Your rest is the goal of life;
it's what you intended for all of creation--
to know you and enjoy all your goodness.
Thank you for the gospel invitation to catch my breath,
to stop all my striving and enjoy everything accomplished for me in Jesus.
In his name I pray,
 amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism 103)

BLESSING

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ.
(Philippians 1:9-10 NIV)

Let all that you do be done in love.
(1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV)

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)

ALL that you do.” “Let ALL that you do be done in love.” Just think about that for a minute.

Father, help me to obey this today. Let all that I do be done in love. Let there be no hint whatsoever of hatred in my actions, or even of sever dislike. Let nothing be done out of spite or contrariness. Insofar as it is up to me, let me be at peace with all men.

Lord, please give me eyes to see You in all things; let every creature and plant be a word from You. May Your love and care shine in the face of natural disasters (and even unnatural ones, such as what is happening in Florida right now); show Your power in a creation that is groaning, looking for ultimate redemption. May our communities be faithful in caring for this creation and the resources that You have provided human-kind.

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!

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
(Romans 12:18 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

The Second Day of Christmas

Today is Saturday, December 26, 2020, the second day of Christmas.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,934

Six days until 2021!

Today is traditionally known as “Boxing Day,” which, thankfully, has nothing to do with pugilism.

Today is also The Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr.

Just as predicted, yesterday was spent entirely in my pyjamas. I never left the house. C did, in order to take her now traditional daily walk. Today will be even better for that, as the temperature is supposed to reach a nice 71 degrees out there.

I will, however, leave the house today, for about an hour or so, as we have our WW Workshop, this morning. And, to all of our delight, S will be attending!! I don’t know what my results will be, today, but I have stepped on the home scale two or three times since my last weigh-in, which was two weeks ago. It looks like I might lose around a pound to a pound and a half, which makes my goal of one hundred pounds by the end of the year less attainable. But that’s okay. I’m focusing on the progress I have made more than the progress I have not made.

After WW, we will get our traditional Sonic drinks and then pick up our grocery order. Today, rather than our usual eggs and toast brunch, we will enjoy the leftovers from yesterday’s Christmas meal. We plan to make our own version of chicken stir-fry tonight. That includes chicken breast, zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, and an onion. S and I add a cup of rice to ours, for an additional five Smart Points. Everything else in the meal is zero points.

After Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, my heart is full. As the psalmist said, “My cup overflows.”

Speaking of cup, my Green Mountain Hazelnut coffee is especially good, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

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

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
(Psalms 100:1-2 NIV)

A psalm.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
The LORD has made his salvation known and revealed his righteousness to the nations. He has remembered his love and his faithfulness to Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the LORD with the harp, with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn— shout for joy before the LORD, the King.
Let the sea resound, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands, let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples with equity.
(Psalms 98:1-9 NIV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:1-5 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

“The Word” was/is the second person of the Trinity, now known as the Son. He has existed from eternity, just as the Father. His life is “the light of all mankind.” This light has shone in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. There is no place in the world which this light cannot reach.

Father, darkness is threatening us. It is encroaching upon Your Church. I pray that the Light of Christ will shine even brighter than ever during these days. The smallest spark of true Light will defeat any darkness. I pray that Your children will remain faithful to You and Your calling on our lives.

I also pray that You would continue to grant me (as well as all Your children) “the capacity to see and savor the wonder, beauty, and complexity of creation.”

"Eternal, almighty God,
how did your hands, 
which flung galaxies into elegant orbit,
become the awkwardly uncontrolled hands of a newborn?
How does your eternal being get inseparably woven
into time-bound humanity?
While the how of your incarnation widens my faith,
may the wonder of why you've done this for me
bring deep joy today.
Amen."
(Westminster Confession, 8.2)

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them.”
(Luke 1:68 NIV)

There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.
(1 Kings 19:9-12 ESV)

And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”
(1 Kings 19:15-18 ESV)

He will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouting.
(Job 8:21 ESV)

Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad.
(Psalms 126:2-3 ESV)

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.”
(Luke 6:21 ESV)

Laughter is a gift from God. It is a blessing, and it has been proven to prevent afflictions caused by stress and anxiety. As Reader’s Digest famously said, “Laughter is the best medicine.”

I resolve to laugh more in 2021, especially in my work environment.

Lord, give me the gift of laughter!

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.
He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.
He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.
His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
(Psalms 147:1-11 NIV)

Do you know how many stars there are? Not even the most resourceful scientists can tell you how many stars there are.

Our God knows exactly how many there are, and “calls them each by name.”

In Job 38:7, the Lord asks Job this question:

On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?
(Job 38:6-7 NIV)

And Psalm 19 tells us:

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.
(Psalms 19:1-4 NIV)

The very stars of creation sing to God in praise of all creation.

And this God, to whom the stars sing praises, is delighted when we fear Him and put our hope in His unfailing love (Psalm 147:11)!

Have you ever considered that it is possible for you to delight God??

(From The Songs of Jesus, by Timothy and Kathy Keller)

Father, my heart is full and content, this morning, as I ponder all of these words. It thrills my heart with wonder and amazement to think that it is possible for me to do anything that delights the Creator of all things, Him to whom the stars sing praises! I shake my head in wonder. But it brings me great joy to know this. As I walk out into this day, Lord, may my joy be evident. May I find things to laugh at, thereby increasing my own joy. And may I celebrate the Light of the world, which is Christ Jesus, and may I display that Light in my own life, at all times.

Please shine Your light into our world today. Eliminate the darkness. May Jesus’s defeat of the prince of darkness by ultimate and final. Restore Your Church to her first love, Father, and bring her joy back. Help us to love one another, just as we love You with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Heal our world, Lord! Deliver us, please!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!
(1 Chronicles 16:34 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the blessings of Christmas
  2. For the fulness of my heart and the peace in my soul
  3. For laughter
  4. For the Light of the World
  5. That You delight in us when we put our hope in Your unfailing love

Grace and peace, friends.