Who God Is Gonna Use

Today is Monday, the second of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,153

Seventeen days until S’s birthday!

Today is what I consider to be my first official day of retirement. Yesterday evening was strange, because I didn’t know how to feel. I’m used to having this, “tomorrow is Monday and I don’t want to go back to work” feeling on Sunday evenings. And, of course, that feeling wasn’t there, last night.

I still went to bed when C did (in fact, I was there before her), and I got up, this morning, at 5:15, when C got up. I’m a person of routine, so I want to maintain that, at least for now, until I know what I’m going to be doing each day. After all, if I do wind up driving the school bus, I will have to be there at 6:00 AM.

This day will not be spent sitting around, either. I’ve already mentioned the two appointments I have. While I don’t have definite, scheduled plans, yet, I do have some things that I want to accomplish today, not the least of which is having dinner ready when C gets home from work. I’ll be looking at creating some kind of weekly schedule as this week progresses.

One thing I’m definitely looking forward to is more reading time. I already started that last night, setting aside around a half hour to just sit and read, while I drank my evening herbal tea.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Place of Finding,” by Daryl Madden

Within Your Presence
An offer of prayer
A sense of a space
Of being appears

Warm is the comfort
Of love that is shown
This place of finding
Where I’m fully known

In freedoms’ surrender
Deep is the longing
The gift of this dwelling
The sense of belonging

As I go on the way
Be of this embrace
A view of remaining
To be of this place

In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
(Psalms 40:6 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for this new chapter in my life;
2. for the library interview, this afternoon;
3. that I am fully known by You (and yet, somehow, You still love me);
4. for the record of the Old Testament that shows that none of the people You used to accomplish Your purposes were anywhere close to perfect;
5. for Your constant admonishments to "fear not."

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY TWO

INVITATION

Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true wisdom. All who obey his commandments will grow in wisdom. Praise him forever!
(Psalms 111:10 NLT)

I pause, at this moment, in this “place of finding where I’m fully known,” to consider the day ahead. May I find You wherever I look, and wherever I go, today.

BIBLE SONG

Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
Praise the LORD with the harp; make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.

For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does.
The LORD loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathers the waters of the sea into jars; he puts the deep into storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:1-8 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the LORD before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”
Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”
His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”
(Genesis 27:5-13 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I look for truth to inspire my day, to enlighten my walk, and to give me purpose. May the Holy Spirit guide my thoughts, prayer, and words today.

Why are we encouraged to praise the Lord, to sing praises to Him? Why is it “fitting for the upright to praise Him?” Because “the word of the LORD is right and true,” and “He is faithful in all He does.”

Because “the LORD loves righteousness and justice,” and “the earth is full of His unfailing love.”

Because the heavens and the “starry hosts” were created “by the breath of His mouth.”

What more reason do we need? I’m sure we can find many more reasons in Scripture, but is this not enough to inspire humankind to praise Him? The very fact that by speaking a word, He brought all creation into being, should be enough to praise Him.

You try that. Go ahead. Say, “Let there be . . .” and see what happens.

In the words of Rich Mullins, “The Lord said, ‘let there be,’ and there was.”

All of these things are also reasons for the last verse in today’s passage from Psalms.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; let all the people of the world revere him.
(Psalms 33:8 NIV)

Sadly, this does not happen. Why? Psalm 14:1 provides a good answer for that question.

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, their deeds are vile; there is no one who does good.
(Psalms 14:1 NIV)

What can we say about Rebekah? Jacob gets a lot of grief for being a deceptive cheat, and there is no denying that he was. But here we see Rebekah driving this deception. This whole scenario is so convoluted and tragic. Yet it had to happen. It was required that Jacob be the front-runner; it was destiny that Jacob get the blessing. It was God’s plan.

I don’t understand all of this, and doubt that I ever will. But it’s not my place to try to suss out the reasonings of the Almighty, is it? One thing I do know, though. And that is that if God can use a deceptive cheater like Jacob (and Rebekah), he can use me in my sinfulness, as well.

All throughout Scripture, we see God using normal folks. It might appear, on the surface, that most of God’s “heroes” were extraordinary, super-powered people, who had some kind of “holy advantage” over everyone else.

But let’s take a closer look.

Abraham lied multiple times about Sarah being his sister, because he didn’t trust God. Abraham also disobeyed God’s command by bringing his nephew along with him when he left his home and family to head to Canaan. This resulted in the whole Sodom and Gomorrah event (they probably would have gotten destroyed anyway, but there wouldn’t have been any of this pillar of salt business).

Joseph was so arrogant that his brothers wanted to murder him. Instead, they just sold him to some slave traders.

Moses was a coward. He was also a murderer. Aaron lost faith while Moses was on the mountain and allowed the fickle Israelites to sway him into creating a golden calf. Then he lied about that.

David . . . where does one start? After raping Bathsheba (let’s call it what it is, okay?), he murders her husband when his ploy to make it look like the baby is legit doesn’t work. Yet he is specifically called “a man after God’s own heart.”

Elijah ran from a woman. For forty days. Then he whined when God called him out.

Samson was not anywhere near the man of great character that I was led to believe he was in Sunday School. Samson was a creep and a jerk. Yet God used him to defeat the Philistines.

The Bible is full of weak, flawed people whom God used in mighty ways. The constant in all of those things was the Lord! He was the Source of the power and might. He used a donkey in the story of Balaam, for crying out loud.

Again, in the words of Rich Mullins (I didn’t plan this), “You never know who God is gonna use, a princess or a baby, maybe even you or me.”

So if you’re worried that God can’t use you because of the things that you have done, just read the Old Testament.

There may be, actually, one exception. I have never been able to find anything negative about Daniel. He was pretty straight up, that one.

Father, I praise You. Why? Because I have to; I am driven to; Your Spirit will not let me not praise You! No, I am not forced to praise You. Not the same thing. I am compelled, but not forced. I am not a robot, You have given me freedom of will, otherwise, I would not keep sinning. So praising You is my choice. Nevertheless, I must. Because Your Word is right and true; because You are faithful in all that You do; because You love righteousness and justice; because the earth is full of Your unfailing love; because You created everything with spoken words. I praise You; I ascribe to You honor and glory and blessing. You are worthy!

I also praise You because You have chosen, for reasons I cannot fathom, to keep me around for sixty-plus years, in spite of my sinfulness, my selfishness, my arrogance, my weakness . . . and You still have work for me to do. I call out to You to help me perform the tasks that You have for me to do – today, tomorrow, this week, and the rest of the days that I have on this earth. And if that be another thirty or forty years, so be it. May those years be lived, walking in Your Kingdom, proclaiming the truth of Your Gospel, loving You and loving people.

Lord, I pray that You give us grace as caretakers of Your creation. Make us wise in our stewardship of the physical resources You have provided. And may You inspire people with creative new ways of conservation technologies.

"God of blessing,
what a mess I create when I wrestle the future out of your hand and take it upon myself.
I pray for patient trust for today and good confidence for tomorrow,
knowing that nothing can separate me from your love,
because my curse fell on Jesus so your blessing can come to me.
Amen."

BLESSING

May God give you more and more mercy, peace, and love.
(Jude 1:2 NLT)

But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
(Psalms 13:5 NLT)

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

Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.
(1 John 4:18 NLT)

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.

Faith in the Testing

Today is Saturday, the thirty-first of July, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,151

Nineteen days until S’s birthday! She starts her countdown today!

I am officially “retired.” Let me tell you, it is an odd feeling, quite surreal. I was given a nice little “sendoff” party, around lunch time, yesterday. I wasn’t sure if they would do anything, so I was pleasantly surprised, and they pulled it off without me having a clue it was coming.

Of course, I cried a little bit. I was asked to say a few words, which was tough. I had worked with some of these people the whole seven years I had been at that location. I worked with CEVA for a total of ten years, over three different accounts, and with the Raytheon account the longest.

I told them that I loved them all, and then pointed to the shirt that I chose to wear for my last day. I purposefully selected my t-shirt that says “Love one another.” As I pointed to it, I stated that I had chosen that shirt on purpose. I simply emphasized that I loved them, and that this was what we all needed to do, as our world is so fractured right now. I believe it was well-received.

Then there was cake. And it was delicious cake. Of course I ate a piece. Someone who knows of the journey I have been on, over the last seventeen months, quipped that it was low-carb cake. I said I didn’t believe him, and I didn’t care. There was a card, actually two. One from my receiving team, and the other from the whole group. There were very kind words on them both.

I also received a few gifts, from various people. One of the Kitting leads gave me a couple of books, as we had bonded a bit over reading, during past months. He gave me Travels with Charlie, by Steinbeck, and Dark Matter, by Blake Crouch. One of the receiving ladies gave me a nice insulated tumbler, along with a Hershey’s bar, and one of the departments gave me a Barnes & Noble gift card.

As I walked out of the building, at the end of the day, with one of my closest friends walking me to the car, having surrendered my badge and all access to the building, there was this moment of almost panic, when I wanted to run back, bang on the door and yell, “Wait! I’ve made a huge mistake! I changed my mind! Let me back in!”

But I got over that.

When I checked yesterday’s mail, there was an envelope addressed to C, that contained a $200 refund from one of her recent medical procedures. I’m not one that tries to find “signs” in everything that happened, but I couldn’t help but believe that that one was, indeed, a sign from God that it’s all going to be fine.

This morning, as soon as I get done with this, we are traveling to Mineral Wells for a bittersweet gathering. R & J will be there, as we have an early celebration for J’s and S’s birthday (both August 19). R & J will be moving to Indianapolis next weekend, I think, so it will likely be our last chance to visit with them before they move. C has already declared that we are going to somehow manage to see them at least twice a year. I’m not sure how we will make that work, but I’ve never been to Indianapolis, so there’s an opportunity for me to visit a new place. Plus I have that silly star on my driver’s license, now, so I can fly again. On a plane. Well, in a plane, actually. I don’t think anyone actually flies on a plane. It would be hard to hold on . . . not to mention freezing cold.

Time to move on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Of A Prayer, by Daryl Madden

When frustrations
In this day, appear
Instead of complaining
Let’s offer a prayer

When a soul comes to mind
We dislike or we care
Let’s cover them now
With a blessing of prayer

When our thoughts arise
Of worry or fear
Let’s give them unto
Our Lord, with a prayer

When we are bored
Opportunity here
To fill our soul
With the joy of a prayer

A practice this day
Of our lives to share
The love of our Lord
With the gift of prayer

This is a beautiful poem!

I waited patiently for the LORD to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed.
They will put their trust in the LORD.
(Psalms 40:1-3 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. that, as I wait patiently for You, You hears me and lift me up;
2. for whatever comes next in my life, as I know it will be a gift from You;
3. that You will give me a "new song to sing," and that others will be inspired by Your works in my life;
4. that You are my refuge, my rescue, my rock, and my fortress, and that You will lead and guide me for Your Name's sake;
5. for the faith exhibited by Abraham when You tested him.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

Our LORD, you keep your word and do everything you say.
(Psalms 145:13b CEV)

You may have noticed that I decided to feature different translations of the invitation verse(s) this week. The other Scriptures continue to be in New International Version, as that is the version used by the book.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. A psalm of David.

In you, LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God.
(Psalms 31:1-5 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”
“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.
“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.
When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am,” he replied.
“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.”
(Genesis 22:1-2, 6-14 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit, asking Him to lead me closer to the Trinity, as I walk in the Kingdom of God today.

The passage from Psalms is full of those descriptive words that I love to use about God; refuge, rock, fortress. And then there’s the reason for God being all of things to me; “for the sake of your name.”

I keep coming back around to this, lately. We have to remember that everything that God does is for His own Name’s sake. For the sake of His own glory, He will lead and guide me along the right path. Put simply, if I screw up, it looks bad on Him, right? And God is going to protect His own Name, above all else.

So why, then, does He allow people like Jimmy Swaggart to mess up and get caught in hotel rooms with sex-workers? I can’t answer that question, because I’m not God. But I suspect that it may have something to do with them persisting on taking their own way instead of His. I do believe that, even though I can never completely “fall away,” if I persist long enough in taking my own path, God will eventually say, “Fine, then. Go that way. But suffer the consequences.” When this happens, it will be me that is fully discredited, not God.

Now, there are people out there, who mistakenly won’t believe in God because of the actions of a few foolish people who claim to be following Him. I would plead with those people to, rather, examine the life of God incarnate, rather than a few foolish human beings. Jesus Christ is the example to look at, not Robert Tilton or Benny Hinn or Jimmy Swaggart or Joel Osteen. I could name more, and I’m sure you have a few in mind, as well.

Look to Jesus. You won’t find anything wrong, there.

In the meantime, I pray that the Lord will keep me on His path, for His Name’s sake, and not allow me to persist on my own way. Even more so, I pray that “my own way,” would actually be His way, so there wouldn’t be any problem, there.

That’s the part about keeping me from falling into any traps (verse 4).

Regarding the testing of Abraham, I find it interesting that the compiler of the devotional book chose to leave out verse 5 of Genesis 22. I believe that verse 5 is one of the more important verses in the passage.

He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”
(Genesis 22:5 NIV)

There is a very important word that is used twice in the verse.

“We.”

Abraham says, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

There was no doubt in Abraham’s mind that Isaac would be coming back with him.

Father, I pray for the faith of Abraham, especially as I stare straight into the unknown today. I remember someone’s quote: “When you stare into the abyss the abyss stares back at you.” Nietzsche, I think. Well, the abyss is staring back at me, and I am not deterred. Because I trust in You. I trust in You because You have proved Yourself worthy, time and time again, not only in my life, but in the lives of countless myriads of people before me, from the beginning of all time. I thank You for the record that we have, most effectively highlighted in Hebrews chapter 11. Thank You for being my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. And thank You for the life of Jesus Christ, who, besides being my redemption, is also my example for how to live my own life.

Lord, I also pray that Your Church would have a “deep missional identity.” May You give her servant leadership, kingdom vision, and godly stewardship. I also pray for all who may be new “members” in a church community. I pray that Your people would treat them with compassion and kindness and love, showing them the true way to walk in Your kingdom.

"God my provider,
loosen my grip on all that I hold dear in my heart.
By faith I release them to you and bind my will to yours,
trusting that your will alone is good.
I offer my life to you because I see how you did not hold back your son from me.
In his name I pray,
amen."

BLESSING

I will bless you with a future filled with hope—a future of success, not of suffering.
(Jeremiah 29:11 CEV)

Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
(Proverbs 4:23 ESV)

Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them;
(Deuteronomy 11:16 ESV)

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:7 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!

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Wailing Into Dancing; Sackcloth Into Joy

Today is Friday, the thirtieth of January, 2021.

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

Day 23,150

Twenty days until S’s birthday.

Today is the day. My last day of full-time employment. I expect many tears, throughout the day, as I say goodbye to some good friends. I had to say goodbye to two of them, yesterday, as they will not be at work today. For most of these, I will be able to have some contact, either through Facebook, or text messaging.

I won’t deny that I am going to feel a little bit lost after today, at least for maybe a week or so, depending on what happens on the part time job front. I’ve been unemployed before, but this is the first time in my adult life that it has been my own choice to do so. The last time I left a job voluntarily was over twenty-five years ago. Since then, I was terminated at one position, and, in the other, the company closed the location.

I am a little bit proud of the fact that, since my graduation from school, I have only worked four jobs. One of those lasted less than two years, so if you take that one out, my average stay at a job is over ten years. I am a reliable and loyal employee with a strong work ethic.

Okay, this is starting to look like a resume, so let’s move on.

I may have an opportunity to attend some events of the PWBA next week. That’s Professional Women’s Bowling Association. The ITRC (International Training and Research Center) will be hosting some tournament events next week, and that is located in the same building as the USBC (United States Bowling Congress) for whom my wife works. They have been told that they can attend any of the bowling squad sessions for free. C has inquired as to whether a family member can attend with them. If they say that this is okay, we are considering one or two of the sessions on Thursday afternoon/evening. Thursday at 8:00 PM is the final ladder elimination event of that tournament, and would be super fun to see in person.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Bring Me, by Daryl Madden

Bring me to this moment
The soul to be aware
To be fully present
Right now, and right here

Bring me to my senses
To taste and feel and see
Of the abundant ways
That God is blessing me

Bring me to be grateful
For nothing I deserve
Let joy fill my heart
A turn to go and serve

Bring me to be humble
With His gifts to share
Reflection of His love
Shining everywhere

We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothing. We heap up wealth, not knowing who will spend it.
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you.
(Psalms 39:6-7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the many blessings I have received, all of which I do not deserve;
2. that my only hope is You;
3. that You turn our wailing into dancing; and You replace the sackcloth of mourning and repentance with a garment of joy;
4. that You have given me eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far better than we could ever imagine;
5. that I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in Your great universe.

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK TEN – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Yahweh is faithful in all his words, and loving in all his deeds.
(Psalms 145:13 WEB)

I pause, briefly, to ponder the fact that Yahweh is, indeed, my only true hope in this world and in this life. Truly, although I can scarce count my blessings, due to the magnitude of them, I dare not place my hope in those blessings. My hope is in the Lord, who loves me with an everlasting love, and is faithful in all His words and works.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm. A song. For the dedication of the temple. Of David.

I will exalt you, LORD, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
LORD my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me.
You, LORD, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.

Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name.
For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
(Psalms 30:1-5, 11-12 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now the LORD was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.”
(Genesis 21:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue to be aware of God’s loving presence, this morning, I dwell in His peace. I pray for the Holy Spirit to draw me deeper and reveal something to me in these passages.

I can echo the psalmist, to some degree, as I do feel that the Lord has lifted me out of many depths, in my length of days. My life may not have been in quite the danger as David’s, at least never to my knowledge. As far as I know, I have never had a jealous king attempting to slay me. But my life has had some depths, and the Lord has lifted me from them all.

Therefore, along with David and all the saints, I can sing the praises of the Lord; I can praise His holy Name. He does turn our wailing into dancing; He removes the sackcloth (a garment that is reserved to indicate mourning and/or repentance) and clothes us with joy.

Joy is radiant, such an extreme opposite of the dullness of sackcloth (think of it as wearing a burlap feed bag). Joy, if you will remember, is the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being. It is the truth that things in the kingdom of God are far better than you could ever imagine.

And they are.

All we have to do is have eyes to see.

Joy also comes from knowing that “we are unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe” (Dallas Willard).

And note, at the end of Psalm 30, the reason for turning our wailing into dancing and replacing our sackcloth with joy.

“that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.”

Father, I praise You for all of these things; that You turn our mourning into dancing and replace our sackcloth with joy. I pray that all of Your children would see, this morning, that they are clothed with joy. Give us all eyes to see that things in Your Kingdom are far, far better than our wildest dreams could imagine. Give us eyes to see the overwhelming pervasive sense of well-being that comes from knowing and trusting You. And show us that we are, indeed, unceasing spiritual beings with an eternal destiny in Your great universe!

Lord, please give us all a deep, deep gratitude for the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. May You bring provision and sustenance to those who are suffering from poverty and injustice in today’s world. Give us all our daily bread, Father. And for those who suffer any kind of addiction, and for their supporters and caregivers, I pray a special blessing today. Give them grace, and have mercy on their souls. Draw them out of the pits of despair and addiction, Lord!

"Gracious Lord,
for many the gospel seems too good to be true.
When life looks so unforgettably bad,
how can I believe something so impossibly good?
I pray that you do what only you are able--
birth Christ's life in me through the work of your Holy Spirit.
Amen."

BLESSING

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you,” says Yahweh, “thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 WEB)

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
(Hebrews 4:13 NIV)

If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
(Psalms 44:20-21 ESV)

O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
(Psalms 69:5 ESV)

Father, I praise You that I am an open book to You.

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!

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

Grace and peace, friends.