Do Not Worry

Today is Saturday, the sixth of February, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,976

I’m just about to start my second cup of coffee, this fine Saturday morning. The first cup was my current favorite, Twisted Pine’s Hawaiian Blend. Cup number two will be Chocolate Covered Cherry by Macaron.

Today is a busier-than-usual Saturday. We have our usual WW Workshop at 10:30. At this point, I don’t know what my results will be. I seem to be very close to where I was last week. So there may not be a gain or a loss. If there is a gain, it will be small.

Later, today, I have my eyecare appointment, at 1:40 PM. We also have to take a package to the UPS store, as I’m returning some steel-toed shoes to Amazon. We may try to watch The Sound of Music, later today, if we can sit still for three hours. Heh. This, in honor of the passing of Christopher Plummer, yesterday.

Got some good news at work, yesterday. It looks like we may get pay increases, soon. Which comes as a huge surprise to all of us, as we were not expecting any. It seems that our management has negotiated salary increases with our client. Good on them!!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O Lord,
you have mercy on all.
Take away my sins,
and mercifully kindle in me
the fire of your Holy Spirit.
Take away my heart of stone
and give me a heart of flesh,
a heart to love and adore you,
a heart to delight in you,
to follow and to enjoy you, for Christ’s sake.
Amen."
(Prayer for A Renewed Heart, St. Ambrose)

You are glorious and more majestic than the everlasting mountains.
(Psalms 76:4 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For the weekend, to rest and refresh for the upcoming work week
  • For my health
  • That Your angel encamps around those who fear You (Psalm 34)
  • That I have tasted and seen that You are good (also Psalm 34)
  • That You have provided all that I need, and that there is no need to worry about tomorrow

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 32

INVITATION

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path.
(Psalms 119:103-104 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the LORD, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing.
(Psalms 34:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Psalm 34 . . . another favorite. It begins with praise, as should everything in my life. It speaks of God’s deliverance, yet, we must careful to note that we are not promised the absence of trouble or tribulation. We are promised that the Lord will deliver us from both, though. If we properly fear the Lord, His angel encamps around us and delivers us.

But my favorite verse, for many, many years, is verse 8. “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.”

Taste.

I would venture to say that anyone who does not believe that the Lord is good has not truly tasted. I would also venture to say that anyone who does not believe in the Lord’s deliverance does not fear Him.

There are many who seem to believe that God should just give them whatever they want, with no conditions. And when He doesn’t, they use that as their lame excuse for not believing.

Such people have no comprehension whatsoever, and I feel no pity for them. They live solely for themselves, completely selfish lives, and expect the Creator of the universe to pander to them. Talk about entitlement.

We who have truly tasted, know. We who have truly feared Him, know. And that knowledge can never be taken away from us. We are secure. I have tasted and I’ve seen. God is good; all the time. No matter the circumstances, and even when I forget to praise Him, He is good. Even when things are going wrong for me, God is good. Even if I were to find myself with nothing, having lost everything in a matter of hours, like the Old Testament Job, God is good.

The Matthew passage is full of good stuff. The oft-quoted verse 33 is usually seen as the pinnacle of the passage. If we seek God first, and His kingdom, “all these things” will be given to us, as well.

What are “all these things?” Food, clothing, all of the things that Jesus tells us not to worry about in the previous verses. The key word, I believe, in the passage, is “worry.”

Multiple times, in the passage, Jesus says, “Do not worry.” This goes hand in hand with, “Do not fear.” In face, as I look at my Bible app on my phone, today’s verse of the day happens to be Isaiah 41:10.

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.
(Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

As Jesus concludes this portion of the Sermon, His instruction is, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Practical advice. And why would we? Worrying today, about things that might happen tomorrow, is stealing from today’s joy. And today’s joy is all we have. We only have this moment. We cannot live yesterday, and we cannot live tomorrow. We can only live today.

Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow.

Father, I praise You for Your provision in my life. You have given me all that I need. And, the older I get, the more I experience that You have given me all that I want, because my “want” has changed to meet what You have given me. I look at today, and try not to gaze into tomorrow. I want to live in the joy that today brings. I want to love each breath as it comes into my lungs, savoring everything that is You during the moment. Help me to remember to do that. When I am tempted to worry, may Your Spirit rush in like a mighty wind and push that worry away, reminding me of how glorious You are and how magnificent Your provision is! Thank You that You have caused me to taste and see that You are good!

"Providing God,
I easily doubt that you'll provide
whatever I need for body and soul,
and I can't imagine how the adversity
you send my way could be turned to good.
Help me to let go of my need to control
and instead entrust my life and future to your care.
Keep me fully aware
that you have the power to provide
because you are almighty God,
and the heart to do so 
because you are my faithful Father 
through Christ your Son.
Amen."
(Heidelberg Catechism 26)

BLESSING

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
(Psalms 25:4-5 NIV)


For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
(Ephesians 3:14-15 ESV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
(Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:34-35 ESV)


Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.
(Deuteronomy 5:15 NLT)

The LORD has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations. All the ends of the earth will see the victory of our God.
(Isaiah 52:10 NLT)

Who has believed our message? To whom has the LORD revealed his powerful arm? My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
(Isaiah 53:1-5 NLT)

He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.
(Isaiah 59:16 NLT)

Father, I thank You for Your powerful arm, that which provides for us and protects us. This “arm,” or “Zeroah,” has provided our salvation, as well. Thank You for stepping in to save us with Your strong arm. Praise You for Your justice and Your mercy in our lives! Thank You for the “man of sorrows,” despised and rejected, that we might have life!

Lord, I pray, today for all communities, local and national. May we, Your children, seek good for these communities and be a force for good within them. Help us to care for our neighbors. I pray for the continent of North America, that You glory would be seen in all of the land, and that people would seek Your face and worship You. I also lift up all who are involved in the educational process. Give strength to teachers during this troubling time, and give wisdom (PLEASE) to administrators, especially those who seem to make decisions that have no basis in reality. Protect our schools and the children who attend them.

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!

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

He Went Around Doing Good

Today is Friday, January 8, 2021, in the season of Epiphany.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,947

Friday has arrived, in the first full week of 2021. Work has been gradually increasing, as the workload in one part of my responsibilities increased dramatically, yesterday. But that was to be expected, and I’ve made it through what I expected to feel like a long week, just fine. That was probably a horrible sentence. But have you ever gotten yourself into a situation like that; where you start a sentence, and then by the end, you’re thinking, “I don’t now how to finish this sentence correctly”?

I awoke with allergies afflicting me, this morning. Gonna be one of those days.

I had a really great therapy session, last night. We talked a little bit about the last three weeks, and then started delving into some memories from my childhood/adolescence. I think that may be a bigger topic, moving forward. We scheduled the next session for three weeks out, as I don’t think I need weekly sessions, at this point, and she agreed. And, I was able to book that 6:00 PM Thursday slot again, which worked out fantastic! It was so relaxing to be able to sit in my comfy study chair for the telehealth session. Much better than sitting outside in my car, during lunch hour. Haha!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Enter, Lord Christ–
I have joy in Your coming.
You have given me life;
and I welcome Your coming.
I turn now to face You,
I lift up my eyes.
Be blessing my face, Lord;
be blessing my eyes.
May all my eye looks on
be blessed and be bright,
my neighbors, my loved ones
be blessed in Your sight.
You have given me life
and I welcome Your coming.
Be with me, Lord,
I have joy, I have joy.”
(Celtic Daily Prayer)

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 3

INVITATION

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. . . . The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:11, 13 NIV)

Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
(The Jesus Prayer)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 6:1-7

LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.
Have mercy on me, LORD, for I am faint; heal me, LORD, for my bones are in agony.
My soul is in deep anguish. How long, LORD, how long?
Turn, LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love.
Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

BIBLE READING: ACTS 10:34-40, 43

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
“We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a cross, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. . . . All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” 

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are several words/phrases that speak to me in this passage today, as I meditate and read it again.

The first word is “accepts.” God accepts anyone from any nation. The context of this speech that Peter is making is his vision from God about taking the Gospel to the Gentiles. There is no longer any nationalistic favoritism with God.

Second is “the good news of peace.” This “good news,” or “Gospel” is sent through Jesus Christ, “who is Lord of all.” Jesus’s message of the Gospel was that the Kingdom of God was at hand. It had arrived. It is still here, today, as the Spirit of Jesus is alive and well, residing in His Church. And this message is one of peace, not conflict. While it is true that the Gospel will, at times, result in conflict, its purpose is not to cause conflict. That seems to confuse a lot of well-meaning Christians in today’s culture, who appear to be seeking conflict.

Third, the idea that Jesus “went around doing good.” He is our Master, and He is our example. We are supposed to be following Him, following in His footsteps and mimicking His acts. Therefore, we should be going “around doing good.”

Father, as I head into this work day, today, I pray for the Spirit to lead me into “good works.” Show me, direct me, lead me, into areas and toward people, where I can do good. Show me how to pray for people who need prayer; show me how to help people who need help, and give me a willing, helpful attitude, that I might like Jesus, go around doing good.

"Accepting God,
thank you for your generous heart
and the wide promise of the gospel,
that whoever believes in Christ crucified
will have eternal life.
Move me with great hope for all
and a blessed indiscretion in 
telling the good news of Jesus Christ
to all people.
In Jesus' name,
amen."
(Canon of Dort 2.5)

BLESSING

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
(1 Corinthians 10:24 ESV)

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.
(Galatians 6:9-10 ESV)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
(Colossians 3:23-24 ESV)

The above Scriptures all came from today’s reading in Daily Guideposts 2021. I never cease to be amazed how readings from unrelated sources can speak the same message to me on any given day.

“In Hebrew, the wilderness is called the midbar. Midbar comes from the root word davar. And davar means to speak. What is the wilderness? It is the midbar. And what is the midbar? It is the place of God’s speaking, the place of His voice. It’s where God especially talks to us. Why did He bring His people into wilderness, into the midbar? So He could speak to them. He brought Moses into the midbar to speak to him through a burning bush. He brought Elijah to the midbar to speak to him in a still, small voice. So too He brings us into the wilderness that He might speak to us.

“God speaks, but we don’t hear. We have too many distractions. But in the wilderness the distractions are gone. So God brings us to the wilderness that we might hear His voice. Therefore, do not fear or despise the wildernesses of your life, and don’t despise His removing of the distractions. Rather embrace it. Draw closer to Him. And listen to what He is saying. Seek to hear His voice, and you will hear Him. For the wilderness in your life is not just a wilderness. It is holy ground . . . the midbar . . . the place of His voice.”

“The Mission: Put away the distractions, those things that keep you from hearing. And go into the wilderness, the midbar, and seek the voice of God.”

Father, take me into the wilderness, where I might hear Your voice and seek Your face!

Father, I pray that You would equip each of us to serve in our own unique way in the public arena. May You also help each of us to work in our communities to serve the common good. I also lift up a prayer for all of the “first responders,” especially those involved with treating Covid patients.

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!

The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.
(Psalms 28:7 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. For Your unfailing love
  2. For Your generous, accepting heart
  3. For the example of Jesus, who went around doing good
  4. For the desert and wilderness times, when I can seek Your face without distraction
  5. For Your voice, whenever I manage to hear it

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.


The Season of Epiphany – Worship Jesus!

Today is Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,945

Today is Epiphany, the day on which we acknowledge the visitation of the wise men, or magi, to Jesus.

Epiphany: “a moment of piercing awareness, the sudden jolt of understanding. Imagine, then, that moment stretched out over a period of time. This is the season of Epiphany, a season celebrating the revelation of the Savior, the light of the world.” (Seeking God’s Face, by Philip F Reinders)

This devotional book recognizes an entire “season” of Epiphany, rather than just a single day. In the season of Epiphany, it will take a look at the magi visit, Jesus’s baptism, and the wedding feast at Cana. It will focus on “the ministry of Jesus, the calling of the disciples, the teachings of Christ, his miracles, and finally his transfiguration.”

The season of Epiphany will last until the beginning of Lent.

I would like to recommend a couple of apps. I don’t normally do that, here, but I have found both of these to be useful.

First, the Abide app for meditation and sleep. This is a wonderful meditation app, full of Scripture meditations for just about any reason you can think of. For me, the best use for it is falling asleep at night, having a soothing voice reading Scripture to me.

Second, an app called Three Good Things. Very simply, all you do is type in three things that you feel were positive in your day. I have the app set to notify me at 9:00 PM each night. I haven’t been as consistent as I like in using it, but it is a good way to reflect on your day and find the positive in it.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

He Himself is my contemplation;
He is my delight.
Him for His own sake
I seek above me;
from Him Himself I feed within me.
He is the field in which I labour.
He is the fruit for which I labour.
He is my cause;
He is my effect.
He is my beginning;
He is my end without end.
He is, for me, eternity.
(Isaac of Stella)

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 1

INVITATION

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. . . . The appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
(Titus 2:11, 13 NIV)

BIBLE SONG: PSALM 72:1-2, 8-11

Endow the king with your justice, O God, the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness, your afflicted ones with justice.
May he rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him and his enemies lick the dust.
May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores bring tribute to him. May the kings of Sheba and Seba present him gifts.
May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him.

BIBLE READING: MATTHEW 2:1-5, 7-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied.
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

There are a number of things that could stand out in this passage, but one speaks to me, on this day, at this time.

“Worship.”

We have no idea where, exactly, these Magi came from. It simply says, “from the east.” Side note: we also have no idea how many of them there were. Nowhere does it say that there were three.

They came from far enough away, though, for it to take them a long, long time to get there. Most scholars estimate that it was at least two years, because of the age of children Herod demands to be slaughtered, in order to eliminate this “threat.” I think it is safe to say that these Magi were Gentiles.

We are also not told how they knew what to do. Why were they following this star?

This morning, though, what really hits me, is that, when they arrived at the house where Jesus and his parents were staying, they worshiped Jesus! This influential, important men (perhaps they were even kings), got on their knees and worshiped a child who was somewhere around two years old! However they knew what they knew, they knew enough to do that!

But note that the word “worship” is also used deceptively in this passage. Herod lied to the Magi, telling them to let him know where and when they found the child, so that he could also go and “worship” him. Fortunately, God had other plans and warned the Magi not to do this, so they went back home a different way.

Not all “worship” is true, authentic worship. I don’t have the time to delve into the many definitions of worship, this morning. And I’m not going to critique each church’s way of worship. All I will say is that our modern culture’s consumer-based philosophy of “worship” is probably way off base. However, I will also say this. At least there is some kind of purposeful, intentional worship going on, even if it may not be quite right. After all, none of us really “gets it right,” you know? We do the best we can, hopefully, with what we are given. And maybe that is the best definition of “worship.” Give God back what He gives you, in the best way that you can.

Just know that, if a group of Gentile VIPs from somewhere far east of Israel knew enough to travel for many, many miles to worship a child and give Him gifts of royalty, perhaps we should worship that child, as well.

Father, thank You for leading me to Jesus, and giving me a heart to worship Him. However, I confess that my “worship” is imperfect. It is not, many times, authentic. Sometimes (most of the time?) it is distracted and rushed, especially during these morning times. Help me to focus better when I am worshiping. And help me to worship more consistently, throughout the day. While “worship” might happen at prescribed times, daily and weekly, it can also happen spontaneously, at any given moment. Open my eyes that I may find more of those spontaneous moments!

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.

"Stellar Lord,
drawing the Magi to worship Jesus
pictures for us your wide mercy.
Now we see how in Jesus
you have gone public with your generous promises
for all people.
Forgive our easily narrowed hearts
and equip us with widened imaginations
to promiscuously proclaim the promise
of the gospel to every culture,
nation,
and people.
Amen."
(Canons of Dort 2.5)

BLESSING

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
(2 Corinthians 4:6 NIV)

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
(Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV)

The Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s.
She: Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;
your anointing oils are fragrant; your name is oil poured out; therefore virgins love you.
Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
Others: We will exult and rejoice in you; we will extol your love more than wine; rightly do they love you.
(Song of Solomon 1:1-4 ESV)

In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
(Ephesians 5:28-32 ESV)

“We were each created to be the bride. that’s why we can never be complete in ourselves. That’s why, deep down, in the center of our being, in the deepest part of our heart, we seek to be filled. For the bride is made to be married. So we can never find our completion until we are joined to Him who is beyond us. And that is why we go through our lives trying to join ourselves . . .

“To that which we think will fill the long of our hearts – to people, success, possessions, achievements, money, comfort, acceptance, beauty, romance, family, power, a movement, a goal, and any multitude of things. For the bride was created to be married, and she can never rest until she is.”

The Mission: Put away anything that substitutes for His presence, and join all that you are, your deepest parts, to your Bridegroom.”

Lord, may Your Spirit lead me today to put away anything that might stand between me and the deepest devotion of my heart and my deepest soul to You!

I pray, Father, that more people would have hope and joy in the resurrection, both of Jesus, and in the hope of our own eventual resurrection. I also pray for opportunities and courage to share the Gospel with those who are near me.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.
(Psalms 9:1 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. The season of Epiphany and what it reveals to us
  2. For the Magi who worshiped the child, Jesus
  3. For the mystery of the Bride and the Bridegroom
  4. For Your presence around me, in me, and through me
  5. That the things of the earth are growing strangely dim, in the light of Your glory and grace

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.



Give Ear To My Words

Today is Monday, January 6, 2020. Epiphany. Peace be with you.

Day 22,579

Epiphany, celebrated every January 6, is the day that commemorates the visit of the wise men to Jesus. Since the wise men were not Jewish, the day also acknowledges Christ’s manifestation to the Gentiles.

We had a pretty good day, yesterday. Our church meeting went really well, I think. We didn’t get to all of the Scripture readings that were on the schedule, but we had some great discussion around the first one, which is what delayed us from getting to the second one. I know that our pastor is okay with this, because what kept us from getting to the second reading was important stuff.

The most moving moment of the morning was when we asked the question of who anyone knew that was an inspiration as far as getting through suffering. The first people that were mentioned were folks who were in the room with us. To me, that was very significant. Eventually, we got to people like missionaries from centuries ago, and people like that. But the first people on our minds were people who are in our lives, and people who worship with us. To me, that exemplifies community, which is what we are after.

We stopped at Subway for lunch, then spent the afternoon watching TV and then I got to play on the PS4 for a while.

As for my physical issues, the arm is much better! I have more freedom of movement, so I believe I will be able to drive. I think I can get through work, but I will have to remember to not make any sudden, jerky movements with that arm. The finger, however, isn’t really any better, yet. It doesn’t hurt constantly, with the splint on it, but when I take off the splint, it is still quite swollen, and I can’t bend it very far. That last joint won’t bend at all, on its own, currently. It’s only been two days, though, and it was traumatized much worse than the arm was.

Some quick NFL scores, because it was a weekend of upsets. On Saturday, the Texans beat the Bills 22-19 in OT. The Titans stunned the Patriots, winning 20-13. Then yesterday, the Vikings upset the Saints, 26-20 in OT. And the Seahawks beat the Eagles 17-9. So next weekend will see the Titans take on the Ravens, the Texans against the Chiefs, the Vikings versus the 49ers, and the Seahawks against the Packers.

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

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,

Psalm 103.1-2

Today I am grateful:
1. For a good time of worship with our church group, yesterday morning.
2. That my arm seems to be healing up quickly and well.
3. For a new week of opportunities to serve God and others.
4. That our God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-wise.
5. That our God has committed himself to be our God and to love us unconditionally.

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”

Psalm 16.1-2

I love you, O LORD, my strength. 
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18.1-2

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51.7

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1.9-11

Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. 
O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. 
When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. 
Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple! 
By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas;

Psalm 65.1-5

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon me.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, grant me your peace.

(Agnus Dei)

“Father in heaven, who at the baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit: Grant that all who are baptized into His Name may keep the covenant they have made, and boldly confess him as Lord and Savior; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.”
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.
Hebrews 13.1-3

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2.11

A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the LORD.
Isaiah 60.6

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 
saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Matthew 2.1-2

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

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. 
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. 
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. 
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

Psalm 5.1-6

Reading through the Psalms brings out the fact that many of them begin with what we consider a lament–that is a cry “for help from deep within. This is uncensored prayer, straight from the heart.” Even when we cannot find the “words to express our anguish, we can lay our requests before God.” God desires that we come to him “for refuge from our grief, fear, and pain and not to dull those emotions with amusements and distractions.” Those “amusements and distractions” may promise blessing and/or relief, but seldom deliver, at least not permanently. Our confidence should be in this God who “told Moses that he would faithfully commit himself in love to us.” I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. (Exodus 6.7)

Prayer: “All-knowing Lord, you see what is in my heart. All-powerful Lord, I don’t have the power to accomplish what needs to be done, so I spread out my requests before you. All-wise Lord, I know you hear and will act–but I know also I must wait on your wise timing, and so i will. Amen.”

Father, as I read this “morning Psalm,” I do, indeed, lay out my request before you. My sacrifice is a sacrifice of prayer and praise, and now I will watch to see what you will do. Thank you for being all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-wise. Thank you for your commitment of love to us.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

“As for me, I would seek God, and to God would I commit my cause, who does great things and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.” Job 5.8-9

Grace and peace, friends.