Singing, Drumming, and Dancing

Good morning. Today is Friday, the twenty-sixth of November, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,269

Twenty-nine days until Christmas!

Speaking of Christmas, this coming Sunday, November 28, is the first Sunday of Advent.

We had a most lovely day, yesterday. All of the preparations went very well, and we had a nice, safe trip to Grandma’s house in Mineral Wells. We had a great lunch together, and a nice visit, just sitting around talking (several of us may or may not have fallen asleep). After divvying up the leftovers, we headed back to Fort Worth, stopping for sodas just outside of MW at a convenience store that happened to be open.

This morning, C is back in the kitchen, prepping for today’s lunch with her sister, brother-in-law, niece, and niece’s boyfriend. They are, I believe, supposed to be arriving around 1:00 PM. Ish.

The library is closed today, so I have a second day off for the holiday.

We took some pictures, yesterday.

Mama, me, S, and C
Mama and me

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)

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights
with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.
(James 1:17 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for every good and perfect gift
2. for a great Thanksgiving holiday
3. that You are the "Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change"
4. for the things that I can learn from Jesus
5. for the ability to praise You with music, singing, and dancing

. . . whatever good anyone does,
this he will receive back from the Lord . . .
(Ephesians 6:8 ESV)

Come to me,
all who labor and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you,
and learn from me,
for I am gentle and lowly in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy,
and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 ESV)(emphasis mine)

As I look at this Matthew passage, this morning, one that is so very familiar, I’m seeing something “new.” Notice the italics that I added. All of them are pronouns, which Jesus used to refer to Himself.

Jesus is the key to so much in life. It’s cliché and easy to say, “Jesus is the answer to everything.” That’s easy to say. It’s not so easy to live out. But just look at His words. “Come to me,” He says. “I will give you rest.” Who doesn’t labor? Who isn’t weary? Jesus promises rest, if we only come to Him. And only Him.

He tells us to take His yoke and learn from Him. So what is so new and different about this, that I’m seeing today, for the first time? It is this: Jesus tells us to learn from HIM. He does not tell us to learn from anyone else.

While there may be great value (and most certainly is) in learning from other humans, it is from Jesus, Himself, that we are to learn. I can surely learn from reading and studying great writers and great Christian minds, such as C.S. Lewis and Eugene Peterson. But I should be spending the most time and energy learning from Jesus.

He is the one who will give me rest. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light.

No one else can say that.


So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:12 ESV)

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


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

LAST WEEK OF ORDINARY TIME – DAY SIX

INVITATION

Our God says,
“Calm down,
and learn that I am God!
All nations on earth will honor me.”
(Psalms 46:10 CEV)

As I pause on this quite morning, I reflect on all the good and perfect gifts in my life, which have come down from the “Father of lights.” There is no shadow or variation in Him; He is constant and consistent. He does not change.

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

“My people, what have I done to you?
How have I burdened you? Answer me.
I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you,
also Aaron and Miriam.”
(Micah 6:3-4 NIV)

With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
(Micah 6:6-8 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps even out loud, I look for ways in which God’s Word has moved me. I ponder and meditate upon what has moved my heart or mind. I pray these things to God, including any questions that I might have. I turn my thoughts to Him and quietly enjoy His presence.

Part of Psalm 149 does, indeed, cause me to have questions. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to focus on the music. We are commanded/encouraged/admonished (I can’t say for sure which word is applicable when we are dealing with poetry/songs) to sing and make music in praise to God.

First, we are told to sing His praise “in the assembly of His faithful people.” So we are to sing praises together. Whenever I see this, I am reminded of the opinion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that all congregational singing should be in unison. That’s only an opinion, of course, and only one man’s opinion. But he has a good point. Here is the quote from Life Together:

“There are some destroyers of unison singing in the fellowship that must be rigorously eliminated. There is no place in the service of worship where vanity and bad taste can so intrude as in the singing. There is, first, the improvised second part which one hears almost everywhere. It attempts to give the necessary background, the missing fullness to the soaring unison tone, and thus kills both the words and the tone. There is the bass or the alto who must call everybody’s attention to his astonishing range and therefore sings every hymn an octave lower. There is the solo voice that goes swaggering, swelling, blaring, and tremulant from a full chest and drowns out everything else to the glory of its own fine organ. There are the less dangerous foes of congregational singing, the ‘unmusical,’ who cannot sing, of whom there are far fewer than we are led to believe, and finally, there are often those also who because of some mood will not join in the singing and thus disturb the fellowship.”

I don’t necessarily agree with brother Bonhoeffer, here, but, as I said, he makes some good points. When we sing “in the assembly of His faithful people,” there really is no place for calling attention to ourselves, and I can’t think of any other reason to sing harmony in that setting. Of course, this makes me wonder, as well, how loudly I should sing in a congregational setting. I have a tendency to “belt it out,” which also tends to call attention to me.

I guess the key element in all of this is motive. Why am I singing harmony? Why am I singing loudly? If the song is a Chris Tomlin song (he has an unnaturally high voice for a man), most people can’t sing in that octave, and may need to sing it an octave lower. I once knew a man who believed his singing voice to be inferior, so he whistled the hymns.

We are then told, in Psalm 149, to praise Him with (gasp) DANCING! Oh, dear. I grew up Baptist. With a preacher who declared, from the pulpit, mind you, that “a dancing foot never grew off of a praying knee.” Well, the Bible tells us to dance, and that’s all I’m going to say about that. Except to say that context is very important in these matters.

We are also told to praise Him with the timbrel and harp. What’s a “timbrel?” All educated guesses seem to indicate something akin to a tambourine. So, a percussion instrument. A harp is a stringed instrument. It stands to reason, then, at least to me, that it’s okay to praise the Lord with a guitar and some drums. And dancing.

But then, in verse 5, we are even told to sing for joy on our beds! The last thing we should do every night is praise Him!

Why all this vigorous praising, singing, and dancing? Verse 4: “For the LORD takes delight in His people.” Simple answer.

I think it’s pretty awesome to think about God taking delight in us. The definition of delight is “great pleasure.” The Lord takes great pleasure in us, and I believe that Scripture tells us that this pleasure, this delight, is magnified when we are praising Him, whether it be by singing, dancing, playing a drum, or even whistling.

I did mention questions, and those come into play in the second half of this psalm, in all those bits about “double-edged swords,” “fetters,” and “shackles of irons.” It is not my intention to delve into those meanings, this morning. Today, I’m all about the praise and the great delight.

The only thing I want to say about the Micah passage involves the somewhat rhetorical questions issued in verses 6-8. Do we come before Him with offerings, calves, thousands of rams, or ten thousand rivers of oil? Do we need to be so extreme as to offer our firstborn children to Him?

I love to quote Micah 6:8, because it is major truth. God has shown us what He desires, even demands, from us. “To act justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” That’s it.

Father, I praise You, this morning. I have praised You with guitars, pianos, keyboards, trombones, and singing. I may have even praised You with a tambourine, occasionally. I don’t know about dancing. I’m not very good at that, but I know I have “moved to the music,” sometimes. My heart’s desire is to know You more and to praise You more, so I pray that You will always put it in my heart to continue to praise You. I also pray that I will act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before and with You. I praise You and thank You for Your presence with me, this morning, and every morning, and every minute of every day. I celebrate Your presence, and I rest and draw refreshment from Your presence.

I pray that You will increase our wonder when we consider the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I also pray that You will increase our capacity to suffer with others, at least to have empathy with those who suffer through either poverty or injustice. And may You give strength to all who suffer persecution for their faith.

"Father,
I expend so much energy wondering what Your will is for my life.
Could You make it any clearer?
Give me a gospel-motivated resolve to carry out Your clear and good purposes -
living justly,
loving mercy,
and walking humbly with You.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

God will bless you,
if you don’t give up
when your faith is being tested.
He will reward you
with a glorious life,
just as he rewards everyone who loves him.
(James 1:12 CEV)


Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, you heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
(Traditional Doxology)

Grace and peace, friends.

“I Am Your Salvation”

Today is Wednesday, the fourth of August, 2021.

Shalom Aleichem!

Day 23,155

Fifteen days until S’s birthday! The presents have begun arriving!

This new life I am in continues to be weird. Last night, I stayed up later, so as to, hopefully, not be awake at 3:30 in the morning. I had also planned to not get up at 5:15 when C gets up. I did manage to sleep through most of the night without any huge awake times. However, I was wide awake at 5:15 (actually even a few minutes before). So I am up. It is what I am used to, and it will take some time to get “un-used” to it.

But there is certainly no hurry, is there?

Yesterday, I went out and spent my Barnes & Noble gift card (and a little bit more, unfortunately) and bought three books. I got Ann Rule’s book The Stranger Beside Me, Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted A Faith and Fractured A Nation, by Kristin Kobes du Mez, and Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making, by Andrew Peterson. I’m excited to read all three of these books, and find it interesting that I didn’t even look in the fiction section.

I did a little more cleaning, around the bedroom area, and cooked lunch and dinner for everyone, keeping the kitchen clean, at the same time. That’s about all that I did that was productive, yesterday.

I did look into and set up an appointment to get Cleopatra “fixed,” but we have decided, upon further review of the facility, to cancel that one. The reviews of the place are somewhat terrifying.

Plans for today: get dinner started in the slow cooker, look into what it would take to cancel our satellite account, and research other places to take the kitten for her spaying and shots and microchip.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord, I dedicate this day to You.
May my feet walk only where You want them to walk.
May my eyes see only what You want them to see.
May my ears hear only what You want them to hear.
May my mouth say only what You want it to say.
May my mind think only what You want it to think.

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the LORD!”
(Psalms 40:16 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I am alive and breathing, with all kinds of potential on the horizon;
2. that You are my salvation (Psalm 35:3);
3. for my confidence that I will give You thanks in the great congregation (Psalm 35:18);
4. that You use flawed individuals, not perfect people, for Your purposes;
5. for silence

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

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK ELEVEN – DAY FOUR

INVITATION

The good life begins in the fear of GOD— Do that and you’ll know the blessing of GOD. His Hallelujah lasts forever!
(Psalms 111:10 MSG)

I pause, briefly, to reflect on what “good life” means. We have discussed this here, before. The “good life,” to me, is the same as “life without lack,” which is what I have in Christ, as I walk in the Kingdom of God, in His “easy yoke.” “His Hallelujah lasts forever!”

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Contend, LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me.
Take up shield and armor; arise and come to my aid.
Brandish spear and javelin against those who pursue me. Say to me, “I am your salvation.”

How long, Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their ravages, my precious life from these lions.
I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
(Psalms 35:1-3, 17-18 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the older was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah had weak eyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. Jacob was in love with Rachel and said, “I’ll work for you seven years in return for your younger daughter Rachel.”
Laban said, “It’s better that I give her to you than to some other man. Stay here with me.” So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
Then Jacob said to Laban, “Give me my wife. My time is completed, and I want to make love to her.”
So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob, and Jacob made love to her. And Laban gave his servant Zilpah to his daughter as her attendant.
When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn’t I? Why have you deceived me?”
(Genesis 29:16-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages a second time (at least), I become more aware of God’s presence with me, surrounding me. I look for words, phrases, or thoughts that speak to me. One of the things I love about God’s Word is how the same passage can speak different things to you on different days, all depending on where you are in your life. It is, indeed, living and active, just like Hebrews 4:12 says.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
(Hebrews 4:12 NLT)

The psalmist calls out for protection against those who “contend” with him. I looked up “contend,” even though I believe I have a good understanding of the word. It means, “struggle to surmount,” or “engage in a competition.” The NLT translates that particular word as “oppose.” That makes sense, too.

The Bible app that I have on my PC (e-Sword), has a “KJV+” tab, which gives the King James Version, paired with Strong’s numbers that correspond with Hebrew and Greek words. In this verse, there are actually two different words that are translated as “contend.” The first one is rîyb or rûb, which literally means to grapple or wrangle with. The KJV translates it as “Plead my cause.” The second one, translated “strive,” is yârîyb, and literally means “he will contend.”

Then the word that is translated “fight against,” in both NIV and KJV, is lâcham, which literally means, “to feed on,” “to consume,” with implications of “to battle.” Here is the verse in KJV.

Plead my cause, O LORD, with them that strive with me: fight against them that fight against me.
(Psalms 35:1 KJV)

Why did I go into all of that? I wanted to see exactly what David was asking of God. Plus I have this cool Bible program that will do that.

But David asks the Lord to fight for him. That’s the easy version. We can do the same. If we have people or forces that are contending with us, fighting against us, trying to consume us, we can certainly ask the Lord to plead our cause, to fight against them.

We can also ask the Lord to remind us, as David did in verse 3, that He is our salvation. This is a great reminder that we could all use every single day.

Say to me, “I am your salvation.”
(Psalms 35:3 NIV)

I thought that maybe the “I am” part of that verse would be YHWH in the Hebrew, but it is not.

The result of David’s prayer to the Lord, as it usually is, comes in verse 18.

I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.
(Psalms 35:18 NIV)

I find it interesting (and meaningful) that David does not say, “If You do all these things, I will give You thanks . . .” He simply says, “I will give You thanks.” He is confident, just as Abraham was confident that Isaac would return from the sacrificial location.

Speaking of confidence, in today’s Genesis passage, we see the beginnings of a battle between two over-confident deceivers. Jacob has met his match in Laban, but Laban has also met his match in Jacob. The next few chapters of Genesis are amusing, yet tragic, all at the same time.

It all starts with Jacob falling in love with Laban’s younger daughter and agreeing to work sever years so that he can marry her. Then, the trickery begins. Some people try to explain this by saying that Jacob is being punished for his deception of Isaac, back home. I can’t agree with this at all. If that were the case, I fully believe that God would have told him so.

However, there does, in a way, seem to be such a thing as “karma.” While God probably didn’t “cause” this or bring it to pass, He certainly did nothing to prevent it or disrupt it. It is simply a case of two master deceivers and manipulators duking it out.

And does anyone really win, in such a situation?

Personally, I think that every time you set out to deceive and/or manipulate someone in such a way, part of your soul dies. Nobody wins.

Jacob did wind up leaving there a wealthy man, but at what cost? His uncle was furiously chasing after him, and their parting words were anything but amicable. If you read on, there is this word (or place), “Mizpah.” The simple definition of it is “the Lord watch between you and me while we are separate.” It sounds nice, but it truly isn’t. It’s more like the signal one person gives another to say, “I’ve got my eyes on you.”

I’m watching you

At some point, though, I’m sure that Jacob prayed to the Lord, asking Him to contend with Laban, or to fight against Laban on his behalf. In fact, if you keep reading the story, in chapter 31, it is the Lord who advises Jacob that it’s time to head back home.

And he left with great blessings. You see, Jacob, regardless of his deceptive, cunning nature, was still God’s man. He was chosen by God to live out a purpose, and that purpose would eventually become the nation of Israel. Once again, we see God using flawed individuals, not perfect people, for His purposes.

Fast forward a few thousand years. Look around at the people God is using today. Some of them might be considered to be “good people,” although Jesus, Himself said that there is no one good but God. But our standards are quite a bit lower than His.

But some of them are real jerks. I’ve known some pastor/preachers who were really good at preaching the Gospel, but simply weren’t very nice people. And let’s not forget that God made a donkey talk.

We often say that people who are not for us are against us. But Jesus once said the opposite when His disciples wanted Him to make some people stop speaking in His name, because they weren’t part of their little group. He said,

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
(Luke 9:50 NIV)

So what is my “big idea” today? That’s a super good question, because I’m not sure it’s the same as it was when it started. This has rambled a bit. Just being honest, here.

Let’s go back to the title of today’s post, which I typed up there several minutes ago. “I Am Your Salvation.” This is what I want God to remind me of daily (at least). God is my salvation. He was Jacob’s salvation, in spite of Jacob’s flaws. He is my salvation, in spite of my flaws, and trust me, I have an overabundance of those.

Father, thank You for being my salvation. You are my Rock and my Fortress; You are my hiding place. But most importantly, You are my salvation, provided by the work of Jesus Christ, which is complete, as He sits down at Your side. “It is finished,” He proclaimed, and it is. There is no more work to be done, at least not along that line. But You still have work for me to do, here, obviously, because I am still here. Help me to see that work; help me to focus on it and do it. Lead me in the right path, for Your Name’s sake! Whatever You do, Father, protect Your Great Name!

I thank You for the examples of people like Jacob. He wasn’t a very good person. But You used him, and it gives us all hope. You used all of those flawed people, back in the OT days, and even on into the NT. People like Matthew, the cheating tax collector, Peter, the over-ambitious, fickle coward, and Thomas, the doubter. I can, at some point in my life, identify with all of them.

"One true God,
my disappointments reveal the shrine of idols I carry in my heart. 
When trophy spouses,
promising careers,
or picture-perfect families fail or are taken away,
my heart's true trust and affection are laid bare.
Forgive me for all the things I've chased after in place of you.
May the love of Jesus keep my mind,
will,
and heart fully set on you.
Amen."

BLESSING

Relax, everything’s going to be all right; rest, everything’s coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
(Jude 1:2 MSG)


“Be still, and know that I am God.”
(Psalms 46:10 ESV)

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:4-5 ESV)

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
(Psalms 63:3-7 ESV)

She: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;
(Song of Solomon 1:2 ESV)

may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
(Ephesians 3:18-19 ESV)

Father, Your love truly is better than life, itself. Because of this, “O God, You are my God, and I will ever praise You. I will seek You in the morning, and I will learn to walk in Your ways.” As I rest in the shadow of Your wings, I will sing for joy, and I will be still, and know that You are God. In the sweet, sweet, silence, I will know Your presence and joy, for in Your presence, there is fulness of joy, and at Your right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.

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!

“Somewhere we know that without silence words lose their meaning, that without listening speaking no longer heals, that without distance closeness cannot cure. Somewhere we know that without a lonely place our actions quickly become empty gestures. The careful balance between silence and words, withdrawal and involvement, distance and closeness, solitude and community forms the basis of the Christian life and should, therefore, be the subject of our most personal attention.” – Henri Nouwen

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus Bids Us Come to Him

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Today is Saturday, July 11, 2020. Peace be with you!

Day 22,766

39 days until S’s birthday!

Sadly, I have heard that there will be no free Slurpees on 7-Eleven Day. However, 7-Eleven is donating a million meals to Feeding America. So, good on them. I would rather see a million out of work people get to eat than have a free Slurpee.

Once again, we don’t really have plans for today. I’m sure there will be grocery shopping, and we have our virtual WW workshop at 10:30. I think C plans to mow the yard. I may do a little recording today. I say that every Saturday. But some Saturdays, I actually do it.

Over all, last week at work was pretty good. There were some stressful moments, and, yesterday, there was a brief period when I was beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed as I was getting hit with emails, Skypes, and phone calls, but I got through it, and the day ended well. Most of the receiving team either left around 3:30 or went over to help the kitting team around the same time. Receiving had a pretty light week. I had plenty to do, though, to keep me until 4:30. I could have probably worked another hour or two, but didn’t.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

I just noticed that line in the Serenity Prayer that says, “Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it . . .” That’s a good prayer. Because this world is sinful, and it is going to be sinful until Jesus returns. I have not been asked to change that. I know that there are people who believe that it is the duty of the “church” to rid the world of sin. Find that in the Bible, and maybe I will consider it. Jesus has not asked us to do that. All He has asked us (commanded, rather) to do is to love God, love our neighbors, and love each other (the Church) as He has loved us. In doing those things, He said, we fulfill the entirety of the law.

Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
(Psalms 107:8-9 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For the weekend, and the rest it brings
  2. For Your wondrous works to the children of man, even the ones who won’t believe in You
  3. For the diversity of peoples that will inhabit Your kingdom
  4. That Jesus bids us come to Him and walk in His easy yoke
  5. That Jesus is worthy to take the scroll and open the seals

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
(Psalms 5:1-3 ESV)

Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.
(Psalms 8:2 ESV)

O, that You would silence the enemy, Father!

I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
(Psalms 119:141 ESV)

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Matthew 18:1-4 ESV)

Father, help me to humble myself like a child, but not so that I can be “great.” Because if I desire “greatness,” I am no longer being humble. What a double-edged sword.

The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away. Who considers the power of your anger, and your wrath according to the fear of you? So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
(Psalms 90:10-12 ESV)

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

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.

"Merciful God,
who sent your messengers the prophets
to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation:
Grant us grace to heed
their warnings and forsake our sins,
that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ
our Redeemer;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God,
now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.”

Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
(Revelation 5:7-14 ESV)

“Imagine heaven: a parade of every people group in the world celebrating the wonder of being children of the living God–together! As believers in Jesus, may we celebrate that diversity today.”

(Bill Crowder, Our Daily Bread)

I’ve been listening to a Bible-reading plan on Youversion, that is going through Revelation. I remember being stirred by this passage on the day that it went through Revelation 5. It baffles me, knowing the truth and inclusivity of the Kingdom of God, that anyone can espouse bigotry and prejudice against any other people group. God loves all people, and all people will be included in His kingdom. What a day, glorious day, that will be!


Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
(Revelation 3:20 ESV)

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.
(Zephaniah 3:17 ESV)

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Romans 8:38-39 ESV)

Jesus bids us come to Him. The verse in Revelation is to the Church!! It is not an evangelistic verse (even though it has been used as such for many years). It is Jesus inviting the Church to allow Him in. Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

There is no better way to handle this pandemic than to come to Jesus and bring the anxieties and issues to Him. I know I sound like a Sunday School evangelist, but I really believe this with all my heart.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)


Father, help me to cast my cares on You, because You care for me! Help me to come to Jesus daily, hourly, remembering to stay in that “easy yoke” with Him. I am weary and burdened, as are many of us, right now. Take these burdens from us and give us rest, rest in Jesus, as we walk in Your Kingdom!

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!

fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Behold, all who are incensed against you shall be put to shame and confounded; those who strive against you shall be as nothing and shall perish. You shall seek those who contend with you, but you shall not find them; those who war against you shall be as nothing at all. For I, the LORD your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
(Isaiah 41:10-13 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.