Clothed by God

Today is Wednesday, the eleventh of May, 2022, in the fourth week of Easter.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,435

Today’s header photo is courtesy of Summer Guilliams, friend and sister in Christ.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for making us into a community whose refuge and certainty is Jesus Christ. We thank you that he will not remain hidden from us forever; his life will be revealed, perhaps soon, in our times. Lord God, how long, how long have your children waited! Now a new time is coming, the end of this age, and we rejoice in this even if you must also judge and punish. No matter what happens, we are at peace. We live in your future, in the future of Jesus Christ, in the great day when humankind will receive the Spirit and their old works will come to an end. Be with us. Bless us this night and help us in what we have most on our hearts. We have so much on our hearts, but you see everything and you know our needs. Lord God, your grace will overcome all earthly troubles, and your name will be glorified on earth if only there is a church that believes and truly awaits your help. Praise to your name! You have done immeasurably much for us and you will do even more. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough)

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
(Colossians 3:3-4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that my life is hidden in Christ, who will soon reveal Himself to all
2. for people in my life that I have called "hero"
3. that God alone is who I worship
4. for the command to not pretend to love others, but to really love them (Romans 12:9)
5. that God will clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and, above all, love

And since no one dares to disturb [Leviathan], who then can stand up to me? Who has given me anything that I need to pay back? Everything under heaven is mine.”
(Job 41:10-11 NLT)

Side note. If you keep reading Job 41, beginning in verse 12, to the end, it is my humble opinion that what is described (called “Leviathan” in an earlier verse) is nothing other than a dragon! As a lover of the fantasy genre, it gives me great pleasure to believe that they did, in fact, once exist.

Today’s prayer word is “hero.” There are a lot of ways in which this word is used. For most people, it is someone who has had a significant impact on their lives, and is, the majority of the time, a human. For example, I have a couple of people that I call “heroes.” One is Carl Yastrzemski, former MLB player for the Boston Red Sox. He has always been my favorite baseball player, since I began loving baseball in 1967. Yaz won the coveted Triple Crown of batting in 1967, having the most home runs, highest average, and most RBIs for the season. That feat was not accomplished again until 2012, when Miguel Cabrera finally did it. The Red Sox also won the AL pennant, that season, and were known as The Impossible Dream Team.

I also have a musical hero. His name is Terry Scott Taylor. Terry is the “front man” for alt-Christian rock group Daniel Amos, as well as a couple of other side projects, The Swirling Eddies, and The Lost Dogs, which is a sort of “Christian Supergroup.” I have been following his music since the early eighties, when a seminary friend introduced me to the Daniel Amos album called “Alarma.” I have met Terry, along with other members of The Lost Dogs. I have not met Yaz.

Do I refer to Jesus as a “hero?” Lola Garcia (I’m not sure who this is, but there is an actress by that name) is quoted as saying, “God has my admiration. I admire all He has done, is doing and will do. He is my Hero!” That’s all well and good, but I think God wants more than our admiration. He wants our worship; He commands our worship. In fact, He wants our all.

I struggle with the idea of giving God the same characterization that I give a couple of mere humans. “Hero.” I looked up “hero,” and here is what I found. The first definition most definitely does not fit God. “A mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability.” The second could, I suppose, “an illustrious warrior.” The third, though, “a person admired for achievements and noble qualities,” doesn’t exactly fit. And “one who shows great courage?” Maybe. However, I do not believe that God has “courage,” because when is He ever afraid?

There are a few other definitions, most of which involve literature. One of those is, “the central figure in an event, period, or movement.” I suppose Jesus would fit in that category. Then there is the odd one out, which involves submarines. And finally, “an object of extreme admiration and devotion : IDOL.”

I’ll let you decide for yourself. Is Jesus or God your hero? As I said, my only hesitation in calling Jesus “hero” is the fact that I also call a couple of humans by that designation. I will note, however, that I do not engage in “hero worship.” I realize that both of my “heroes” are but dust. I do not worship them. I do admire them, though, for their accomplishments, probably Terry Scott Taylor more so than Yaz, as Taylor has had much more of an impact on my life than a baseball player whom I have never met.

Father, at this point, I cannot, in good conscience refer to You as my “hero.” However, You are my God, and You, alone, are the One whom I worship. I will not give that worship to a human “hero,” as only You are worthy of that. I cannot flippantly refer to You in the same way that I use that word for any human being, or any cartoon comic book character. [I neglected to mention my love of Spiderman when I was a young lad.] I do pray that Your Spirit will continue to work within me that I might ascribe all glory and strength to You, and give You the full amount of my devotion and worship. Let my heart not be drawn to another, Father, at least in terms of worship and adoration. May I truly love You with my whole heart, Lord, as I walk in Your kingdom.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
(Philippians 2:3 NLT)

This verse comes up a lot in my devotions. I have to assume it’s because I haven’t perfected it, yet. In fact, I know very few people who have even come close.

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.
(Romans 12:9-13 NLT)

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.
(Colossians 3:12-14 NLT)

Wow. That passage from Romans in the New Living Translation! “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” That sends shivers down my spine, my brothers and sisters. We do an awful lot of pretending, in this culture, these days. There is a lot of “posturing” or “posing.” But when the proverbial rubber meets the road, what happens? Are we really caring for the oppressed and downtrodden? Are we taking care of the widows and orphans? Or are we too concerned about ourselves and our own “freedoms” and “rights?”

Father, I pray that You help me to obey the commands in these verses. I pray that I am not a pretender, but that I really love people. And there doesn’t need to be a reason to love someone, other than the fact that we are supposed to love them. Love is supposed to be the primary identification of someone who calls the name of Jesus. The old youth song says it, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I find that to be laughable, today, Lord, because I don’t see a lot of love coming out of the “Christian camp.” God help us! God forgive us! Make us lovers, not fighters, Father!

I pray that You clothe me with mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Let those be qualities in me that people can see right when the meet me. And let Your grace and mercy shine through me, so that the world can see You in me. Let me not do anything out of “selfish ambition,” but help me to be last; help me to consider others as more significant than myself, in all things. In short, I am nothing without You, and in the words of John the Baptizer, “He must increase; I must decrease. Above all, clothe me with love!”

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Great, Glorious, and Majestic Works (and maybe Dragons)

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of October, 2021

Peace be with you!

Day 23,234

Sixteen days until Daylight Saving Time ends

The weekend is nigh, for whom weekends are a thing, any more. I’m still struggling to keep up with what day it is. I keep having to look at my “When 2 Work” app to double check what days I’m supposed to be working. I have also added work days to my computer calendar, and written them on our wall calendar in the kitchen. That actually helps C to know what days I’m working, as well.

Since it is Friday, that means I’m working. Since the new schedule change on October 1, I will always be working a full day on Friday. This means, of course, that I won’t ever have a Friday and Saturday off together, unless I request it, which I have done for the weekend in November when we will travel to Indianapolis to visit R & J.

I am not working tomorrow, though. Next week is my four-day week.

I feel like I got a lot accomplished yesterday. Did some laundry, swept the floors, did some cleaning in S’s bathroom (aka the “guest bathroom”) because C has a friend coming over to visit on Saturday, a friend from back in her high school days. And I cooked dinner! I’m just a regular “house-husband,” right?? Dinner was Pecan-crusted Buttermilk Chicken, by the way. So there are leftovers for lunch. It may have been the best batch I’ve ever made, too..

The Red Sox play the Astros tonight, back in Houston, Game Six. Astros lead 3-2. The Dodgers whooped up on the Braves, last night, to avoid elimination in their NLCS. The Braves lead 3-2. Their Game Six will be tomorrow.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Love You Here, by Daryl Madden

The church door is locked
I can’t get in there
A voice whispers, still
I can love you here

If I am honest
And acknowledge my fears
A voice of comfort
I can love you here

With our deepest wounds
Of sorrow to share
A voice of compassion
I can love you here

When I’m feeling lonely
And burdens to bear
A voice of love speaks
I can love you here

Wherever I am
Let’s be fully aware
To listen to the One
Who always loves us here

Teach me your way, O LORD,
that I may walk in your truth;
unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God,
with my whole heart,
and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:11-12 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that Your love for us transcends place and time
2. for times when I am able to express gratitude "with my whole heart"
3. that You are always kind (Psalm 66:20 CEV)
4. for Your great, glorious, and majestic works
5. for the daily reminders You send me of those works, that I might ponder them in humility

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TWENTY-TWO – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Let’s praise God! He listened when I prayed, and he is always kind.
(Psalms 66:20 CEV)

During this quiet moment, I ponder the kindness of the Lord, and that He always loves me “here,” wherever “here” happens to be.

BIBLE SONG

Praise the LORD.

I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly.

Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them.
Glorious and majestic are his deeds, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
(Psalms 111:1-5 NIV)

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)

BIBLE READING

Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?
Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions?
Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
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 38:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I linger over these passages, I ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to words and thoughts that would teach me and move me into a more intense and intimate walk with God.

The psalm is extolling the great works of the Lord. “Extol” means “praise enthusiastically.” It could be said to be a synonym of “praise,” but with added emphasis. I like what the psalmist says in verse 2, regarding God’s works. “They are pondered by all who delight in them.” I dare say that it is safe to assume that people who claim to be believers, who do not ponder His works, do not, in fact, delight in His works. And if one does not delight in the works of the Lord, His great, glorious, and majestic works, how can one be said to be a “believer??”

Yet, He is gracious and compassionate, and He causes His wonders to be remembered. If we are paying attention, nearly everywhere we look we can see reminders of the glorious and majestic works of the Lord, even if we live in the midst of a bustling city.

Verse 10 brings it all together, in my thoughts. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” That is not the only place this is stated in Scripture. We find it most in Proverbs. And here, the Word flat-out states that, if we follow His commands, His precepts, His Word, we have “good understanding.” What are His commands? We always come back to this. They are summed up in the two greatest commands, as stated by Jesus. Love the Lord with all your being, and love people as you love yourself.

We’ve skipped over the bulk of Job, right into the time when God speaks. He has remained silent through all of the posturing by Job’s friends, and now He responds, mostly to Job. Did you ever think you would see God being sarcastic? If anyone has a right to be that way, it is Him.

I like the way the New Living Translation renders verse 2. “Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?” Truly, all of our words are “ignorant” when compared with the Him! Then God tells Job to brace himself. It’s time for God to ask questions. And He does!

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Who marked off its dimensions? Who stretched a measuring line across it? Surely you know!!”

This continues on for several chapters. I wish I could see Job’s face during all of this.

We will see Job’s response tomorrow.

Side note: It is in the middle of this lengthy monologue by the Lord where I find the wonderful possibility that dragons, in fact, actually existed. I jest, in part, of course, but am somewhat serious. If dragons did exist, they were far from “wonderful,” but, rather, the most terrifying creature to ever grace the planet. Bear with me, if you will. It is named “Leviathan.”

“I will not fail to speak of Leviathan’s limbs, its strength and its graceful form. Who can strip off its outer coat? Who can penetrate its double coat of armor? Who dares open the doors of its mouth, ringed about with fearsome teeth? Its back has rows of shields tightly sealed together; each is so close to the next that no air can pass between. They are joined fast to one another; they cling together and cannot be parted. Its snorting throws out flashes of light; its eyes are like the rays of dawn. Flames stream from its mouth; sparks of fire shoot out. Smoke pours from its nostrils as from a boiling pot over burning reeds. Its breath sets coals ablaze, and flames dart from its mouth. Strength resides in its neck; dismay goes before it. The folds of its flesh are tightly joined; they are firm and immovable. Its chest is hard as rock, hard as a lower millstone. When it rises up, the mighty are terrified; they retreat before its thrashing. The sword that reaches it has no effect, nor does the spear or the dart or the javelin. Iron it treats like straw and bronze like rotten wood. Arrows do not make it flee; slingstones are like chaff to it. A club seems to it but a piece of straw; it laughs at the rattling of the lance. Its undersides are jagged potsherds, leaving a trail in the mud like a threshing sledge. It makes the depths churn like a boiling caldron and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment. It leaves a glistening wake behind it; one would think the deep had white hair. Nothing on earth is its equal— a creature without fear. It looks down on all that are haughty; it is king over all that are proud.”
(Job 41:12-34 NIV)

Tell me that’s not a dragon!! Or at least something very much like our modern day representation of such.

But I digress.

To me, the point of this speech from God is that we know nothing, when it comes to Him. We do have, of course, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the things that He revealed to us about His Father, our Father. But do we know enough to speak boldly? Job’s “friends” made some pretty ignorant statements about Him. We, if we are not careful, will do the same. How often have you heard someone proclaim, “God does not _____ (fill in the blank)” or “God does _______”?

If Scripture does not explicitly say it, we had best couch those expressions in humility, and, at best, as opinions. We can only say, with certainty, the things that the Bible explicitly tells us.

And one of those things, hearkening back to the psalm, is that His works are great, glorious, and majestic. And we would do well to remember those works, ponder them, and extol them.

Father, I praise You for Your mighty works. I thank You for daily reminders of those works, both as I travel to and fro, and as I see photographs that others present, of Your marvelous creation, around the world. We need those reminders, lest we get so caught up in our own sense of “importance” that we forget to praise You and forget to ponder those works. It is for our own benefit that we consider Your creation of the world in which we live; that we ponder how it was that You marked out its dimensions and laid out the boundaries of the seas; that we consider how You laid the foundations of our world (and the universe in which it exists). Give us humility when we speak about You, Lord, and help us to never make statements about You out of ignorance, the way Job and his friends did.

Give us great wonder at the sacrifice of Christ, Your Son. Help us have the capacity to deny ourselves and suffer alongside others.

"Infinite God,
Your power and goodness are terribly great,
above and beyond my capacity to grasp.
What You do transcends my understanding;
so much is hidden from me.
I bow in humility and reverence before You,
content to be Christ's disciple,
trusting Your Word and resting in Your promises.
Amen."

BLESSING

God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
(Matthew 5:8 CEV)

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
(John 8:12 NIV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
(1 John 1:5-7 NIV)

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
(Psalms 18:2 ESV)

Father, You are my God. You are the God of Jeff. You are the God of my existence, my life; You are the God of my past, the God of my needs, the God of my wounds, the God of my heart, and the God of my entire future, into eternity. You are the God of me and all that I am. In these ways, I know You in ways that no one else can know You (this is also true of everyone who calls Your Name). Help me to grasp this truth today, as I ponder Your great works and mighty deeds.

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!

You are light and truth;
In You is no darkness at all;
I will walk in Light.

Grace and peace, friends.