Overflowing Gratitude

Today is Tuesday, the twenty-first of June, 2022, in the twelfth week of Ordinary Time. It is the Summer Solstice, the official beginning of Summer, the day with the most daylight hours.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,476

There was no Rangers game, yesterday, so they stayed at 31-35 for the season. They are in a virtual tie for second place, with a percentage difference of .001 between the Angels and the Rangers. The Rangers play the Phillies in Arlington tonight at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox beat the Tigers, 5-2, improving their record to 37-31. They have overtaken Tampa and are now in third place in the AL East, 13.5 out of first, and back in a Wild Card spot, having bumped Tampa out. They play the Tigers again, today.

The Yankees still have the best record (50-17), and the best run differential (+145). The Athletics have the worst record, at 23-45. The Nationals have the worst run differential, at -109. The Rangers are at -4, and the Red Sox are at +50. The Milwaukee Brewers have the longest current win streak, at four games, and the Reds still have the longest losing streak, also at four games.

After all the qualifying rounds and match play, the top five bowlers in the PWBA U.S. Women’s Open are: 5. Erin McCarthy, from Elkhorn, Nebraska; 4. Shayna Ng, from Singapore; 3. Shannon O’Keefe, from Shiloh, Illinois; 2. Jordan Richard, from Maumee, Ohio; 1. Danielle McEwan, from Stony Point, NY. The final is airing tonight at 6:00 PM CDT. Since I will be at work during that time, I have set the program to record.

Since it is Tuesday, I will be at the library, working my shelving shift, from 4:15-8:15 tonight. This is my “heavy” week, so I’ll be working eight hours tomorrow, Thursday, and Saturday, as well.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you that you have revealed your glory in your Son Jesus Christ. We thank you that today we can still see and feel the glorious grace which streams out from Jesus Christ in his victory over the world, the powerful help which benefits all those who find faith. Grant that a further glory may be revealed, faith dwelling in the hearts of all people, faith that can conquer all the need and suffering on earth, faith that is the power to look to you, to become inwardly quiet in you, and to hope in you at all times. Then your help will come quickly, more quickly than we can imagine. It will come on us unawares, for the Savior has said, “See, I shall come quickly.” We want to hope and believe and trust till the end. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Father, I want these whom you have given me to be with me where I am. Then they can see all the glory you gave me because you loved me even before the world began!
(John 17:24 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the amazing love shared among the Holy Trinity and how that love is passed on to us
2. for the glorious grace, streaming out from Jesus Christ in His victory over the world; may all need and suffering on earth be conquered!
3. for the grateful heart that God has cultivated within me
4. for the amazing, sometimes overwhelming presence of God, always with me, always surrounding me
5. for the sweet, sweet love of my wife of almost 37 years
6. for times of worship together, when we practice the truth that God is both center and circumference in our lives

The word for today, in Pray a Word a Day, is gratitude.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

As you are aware (if you’re not, I don’t know what to tell you), gratitude is something that I am really big on. My devotions, every day, begin with a list of things for which I am grateful. I started doing this in November, at least two years ago, as a response to all the people who only display gratitude during the “Thanksgiving” month. At that point, I purposed to show gratitude 365 days a year.

As I have previously stated here and elsewhere, I don’t put this list in public to seem more spiritual than anyone else. Goodness knows, I’m as much a sinner as the next person. At least. It is, however, to inspire; to show people that, no matter how difficult things get or how bad things look, there should always be something we can be thankful for. Somedays, it is simple things, like coffee, grapes, and cantaloupe. Other days, the list is more complex and deep, more thoughtful.

Some days, I struggle to come up with five things. That’s on me, of course. Other days, it is all I can do to stop at seven or eight. Actually, I think seven is the longest list I have published.

Gratitude, while it may not be “everything,” is certainly important. And, while we know (or at least I hope we know; we should know) that we can never pay God back for the great things He has done for us (nor does He expect or desire us to), we can express our gratitude, and we can most certainly (which He does expect, even demand) pay it forward!

Thank You, Father, for gratitude. That might sound weird to some people. I’m grateful for gratitude. But what I am truly grateful for is that YOu have cultivated this heart of gratitude within me. You have shown me how important it is to be thankful. Verse after verse of Your Word tells me this. So help me continue to be grateful every day, displaying this gratitude for all to see, to inspire them to also be grateful, even if it’s just for the next breath of air. And, yes, I’m grateful for that, too, because the next breath is not promised me. What is promised is Your amazing presence in my life, and I am certainly grateful for that, too!


“So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
(Matthew 19:6 NIV)

Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
(Psalms 37:4 NLT)

I would unequivocally state that C and I are most definitely “one flesh.” We are like two parts of one unit. And, while I might joke that she is my “better half” (we’re supposed to do that, right?), I don’t believe that there is a “better half” between us. We are as equal as it is possible for two people to be, in this marriage. And when we met, even though she had a boyfriend, it was obvious that there was something special between us.

God joined us together almost 37 years ago, and, in spite of a few stupid things on my part, we remain together today, as committed and in love as ever. When she is away from me, I feel like half a person. And I think we do a pretty good job of living by a verse that gets mistakenly separated from many peoples’ favorite verses to quote about marriage.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
(Ephesians 5:21 NIV)

People, especially men and preachers (that should tell you something), love to quote verse 22. But I’m a firm believe that, since all verses and other divisions of these letters are “man-made,” verse 21 is supposed to be part of that paragraph and supersedes verse 22. And, yes, I will fight you on that. I believe that our marriage is quite a good example of mutual submission.

Father, I am so very grateful for C and the relationship that we have. We fit together so well, and much of that has come through growth over these years, growth that You have provided and nurtured. I thank You that You worked in both our hearts to grow us closer and closer together, and that You kept us together all these years. I pray that we might be an inspiration to other marriages.


“The more I am persuaded of the importance of seeking God’s will for oneself, the more skeptical I become about the possibility of saying what is his will for others. That is the source of all kinds of intolerance and abuse. People who claim to know what is God’s will try to impose it upon others with the arrogance which comes from the conviction that they are the repositories of divine truth. I avoid that at all costs. I can never know what is God’s will for someone else.” ~ Paul Tournier

(From Spiritual Classics by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

Father, may I never be guilty of displaying this kind of “intolerance and abuse” toward others, and forgive me for times past when I have been guilty of it. Help me to display love and acceptance toward people, not condoning sinful behavior, but also not condemning, as that is Your job, not mine.


According to French philosopher Jacque Maritain, what our modern world needs most is “New fire, the essential renewal . . . an inner renewal. . . . It consists of a change of attitude, or a displacement of values that takes place in the deepest recesses of the soul, and has to do, first of all and essentially, not with any way of acting or externally behaving . . . but with a way of seeing them before God, and a way of loving them better.”

According to Eugene H. Peterson, we participate in this “when we choose to worship with the people of God, . . . As we sing and pray, give and listen.”

“The act of worship builds our inner foundations and nurtures the eternal relationships we practice all the hours and days of the week.”

(From On Living Well by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, You are, indeed, as Peterson says, both “center and circumference” in our lives. You are the middle, You are the exterior, You are the internal. You are everything. And when we worship You together, we participate in this belief, because our attention must be focused on something/someone other. Not simply someone other than ourselves, but someone/something that is other from what we are. We need this worship, Father, and we need, desperately, this outward focus on You. Society is proving this more and more as time goes by.

Lord, our culture is way too self-focused. Even when we may not be self-centered (focusing entirely on the self), we still tend to be human-focused, and not taking the time to focus or center on You, the Almighty God and Creator of the universe. Change our values, Father, and help us to see and love others before You, in a better and more compassionate way.

Even so, come soon, 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.

Help!

Today is Monday, December 7, 2020, in the second week of Advent.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,915

Eighteen days until Christmas!

And the Christmas shopping frenzy has begun. A lot of presents were ordered yesterday. And some even early this morning.

I have a little sentimental sadness, this morning. Today is the 36th anniversary of our first date. Friday night, December 7, 1984, C and I went to a Laser Magic show at the Noble Planetarium in Fort Worth, Texas, after bowling in the TGIF league at Wedgwood Bowl. What makes me sad is that, each year, for the past several years, C and I have had the pleasure of dancing to “our song” at the USBC Christmas party. There will be no party this year. And dancing would be so much easier, as we have lost over 150 pounds between us! Here’s the song.

Oh, man, it’s already after 6:20. I’d better get a move-on.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks to me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
Salvation is of the Lord.
Salvation is of the Christ.
May your salvation, Lord, be ever with us.
(The prayer of St. Patrick)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
(Psalms 51:15 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For that first date, 36 years ago
  2. That I am alive and breathing, this morning
  3. That You have opened my lips, that my mouth can declare Your praise
  4. That You have opened my eyes to see the wondrous things in Your Word
  5. That You have opened my heart, that I may thank You with all my heart

Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
(Psalms 119:18 ESV)

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
(Psalms 86:12 ESV)

For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—
(Psalms 18:31 ESV)

In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
(Matthew 21:18-22 ESV)

Great are the works of the LORD, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of splendor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;
they are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name!
(Psalms 111:2-9 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Your Name. May Your kingdom come, and Your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for Yours are the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.

"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)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, “Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy. For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it. It shall belong to those who walk on the way; even if they are fools, they shall not go astray. No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there. And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
(Isaiah 35:1-10 ESV)

On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, “Man, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the man who was paralyzed—”I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”
(Luke 5:17-26 ESV)

But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me.
I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.
My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!
Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!
(Psalms 109:21-27 ESV)

“Help.”

There’s a book I want to read, by Anne Lamott. The title is simply, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers.

In this prayer, David is at the proverbial end of his rope. And his prayer is a very simple one. “Help me.” He does elaborate a little, after that, but sometimes the most effective prayer is also the most simple one.

I can testify that there have been many times in which I have simply said, “Help me, Lord!” Or some variation of that. The truth is, He doesn’t need us to elaborate on what is happening.

So many times, our prayers consist of us giving God a recap of what is happening. “So-and-so has cancer!” Guess what. God already knows that! At least half of the prayer requests that I get are not really prayer requests as much as they are information points. Someone has a family member that is experiencing something bad, either physically or spiritually. I find it very interesting that the requestor seldom tells me what they want God to do!!

Next time you pray, think of that. And maybe just say, “help.” Then when you get the help, “thanks,” and “wow.”

Father, You help us a lot more than we ask You to. For that I praise You! The Bible says that You know what we need before we ask You, and I believe that with all my heart. It is good for us, however, to ask. And I stumble, often, over that passage where Jesus tells us that if we pray, believing, we will get what we ask for. That one boggles me. And makes me question my true beliefs when I don’t get what I ask for. Help me understand, and help me pray better. See? Help!

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!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.

I Waited Patiently . . . Or Did I?

Today is Saturday, February 17, 2018. Day 21.891.

21 days until our Glen Rose weekend.

Ed Sheeran, born on this date in 1991, said, “But once you’ve made a song and you put it out there, you don’t own it anymore. The public own it. It’s their song. It might be their song that they wake up to, or their song they have a shower to, or their song that they drive home to or their song they cry to, scream to, have babies to, have weddings to – like, it isn’t your song anymore.”
BrainyQuote

The word for today, from Dictionary.com, is objurgate, a verb which means, “to reproach or denounce vehemently; upbraid harshly; berate sharply.” I’ve never heard that word before, but I like it. Objurgate. Yeah.

I think C is gradually feeling better. And she’s done her usual research. It typically takes people a few weeks to completely recover from this stuff.

Not much on the agenda today. We need to get a tire, and pick up our Kroger Click List order. That’s about it, I think.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise noted

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.
I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. 
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. 
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. 
Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! 
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. 
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. 
Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me: 
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40:1-8

I believe the key phrase, here, is “waited patiently.” As we move headlong into the future, we are less patient. People have been commenting about the “instant” nature of our society since I was in college. It has only gotten worse. With technology, I can have a book to read, a song to listen to, or a movie to watch instantly. No waiting. Even our TV providers have this thing called “On Demand.” We can watch pretty much anything we want anytime we want to. I can watch anything on DirecTV or Netflix from any device that I have.

It only stands to reason that we should expect the same from God, right?

“I prayed and he didn’t answer!”
“How long did you give him?”
“A whole day!!”

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
2 Peter 3:8

Wait, what?

Yeah. A thousand years. Beloved, God’s timing is not our own. He hears our prayers, and he will answer. We may not get quite the answer that we want, as fast as we want it, but we will get an answer, in his time. Wait patiently.

(From Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came To Die, John Piper)
4: To Achieve His Own Resurrection from the Dead

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Hebrews 13:20-21

John Piper makes note of the fact that this passage explicitly states that God brought Jesus back from the dead by the blood. So the death of Christ did not simply come before the resurrection, “it was the price that obtained it.”

When the Bible speaks of “the blood” of Jesus, it refers to the death of Jesus. “No salvation would be accomplished by the mere bleeding of Jesus. His bleeding to death is what makes his blood-shedding crucial.”

And in this passage, we see that Jesus “was raised not just after the blood-shedding, but by it. This means that what the death of Christ accomplished was so full and so perfect that the resurrection was the reward and vindication of Christ’s achievement in death.:

God’s wrath was fully satisfied in the death of Jesus (that was reason number one). “The holy curse against sin was fully absorbed.” So God gave his public endorsement of Christ’s act by raising him from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:17 says, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” But that doesn’t mean that the resurrection is the price paid for our sins. “The point is that the resurrection proves that the death of Jesus is an all-sufficient price. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then his death was a failure, God did not vindicate his sin-bearing achievement, and we are still in our sins.

“But in fact, ‘Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father’ (Romans 6:4). The success of his suffering and death was vindicated. And if we put our trust in Christ, we are not still in our sins. For ‘by the blood of the eternal covenant,’ the Great Shepherd has been raised and lives forever.”

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 9:15

Father, give me patience when it comes to prayer. Help me to wait patiently on you, not only when I’m praying, but when I’m worshiping and abiding in you. Let me never be in a hurry. May I live by the advice of Dallas Willard when he said that we need to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from our lives. Thank you for the death of Christ that absorbed your wrath that we might not have to face it. Thank you for the price he paid and the resurrection that that price bought. I look forward with all of my being to that future resurrection, the future grace that has yet to be bestowed upon us. I am eager for Home.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us, even as we hope in you. Psalm 33:22

Grace and peace, friends.