Benefits

Today is Wednesday, the twelfth of never May, 2021, in the sixth week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,071

Eight days until our Glen Rose weekend!

We had an unfortunate occurrence, yesterday evening. I got home from work and went to take my shower. I had recently been kind of vacillating between morning and evening showers. It’s a good thing, in retrospect, that I chose to shower yesterday evening.

Because I discovered that our hot water heater was leaking. My shower never got very warm at all. There was barely enough warm water to make it bearable. C got home while I was investigating, and we managed to get the water supply to the tank turned off, so it would stop leaking, and then she vacuumed up the water around the area where the tank is.

We also made sure to clear an accessible path to the thing, so that when we finally get someone scheduled to replace it, they will be able to get to it. Yes, we are those kind of people. The garage doesn’t hold cars, it holds junk. Go ahead and judge, I don’t care.

C is already planning to work from home tomorrow, because the pool guy is scheduled to come start work on our pool equipment, so she will try to set something up for the hot water heater tomorrow, as well. The expense will not hurt us, it’s just a minor inconvenience to deal with. I don’t see this being related to Snovid-21, as the heater is gas, so it was working the entire time the electricity was off, back in February. More than likely, it is related to the fact that it is the original hot water heater for this house, which was built in 1999. So it’s almost 22 years old.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

O, my Jesus, help me.

Thank you for your humbleness;
help me be humble.
Thank you for your forgiveness;
help me forgive.
Thank you for your mercy;
help me be merciful.
Thank you for your compassion;
help me be compassionate.
Thank you for your kindness;
help me be kind.
Thank you for your joy;
help me be joyful.
Thank you for your love;
help me love.
(Daryl Madden, On a Bench of Wood: Reflections of God's Grace)

But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
(Psalms 109:30-31 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your ability to make me humble, forgiving, merciful, compassionate, kind, joyful, and loving
  • for Your Holy Spirit, and the promise of filling
  • for all Your benefits; bless the Lord, O my soul!
  • for Your great care for us, and the constant encouragement to be not afraid
  • for the Gospel, that Your Kingdom is here, now

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

EASTER – DAY 39

INVITATION

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise.
(Psalms 47:5-7 NIV)

I pause, now, to quietly consider humility, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, kindness, joy, and love. O, Jesus, fill me today.

BIBLE SONG

Of David.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
(Psalms 103:1-5 NIV)

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
(Psalms 103:8 NIV)

As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
(Psalms 103:13 NIV)

BIBLE READING

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
(Luke 24:44-53 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, I linger over any words or phrases to which the Spirit draws me, pondering and meditating on what connects with my soul.

Psalm 103 is a favorite of many, especially those early verses. The benefits of God . . . we are encouraged to not forget them. Also, there is the thought of speaking to my own soul. “Bless the Lord, my soul!”

There is a current trend of positive self-talk; speaking positive things to oneself. But it is, as we can see here, not new at all. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. And David encouraged us, centuries ago, to speak to our own souls and tell our souls to remember the benefits of God. He then proceeds to list some of them.

I think it is no mistake that David lists forgiveness of sins first. If we didn’t have that, nothing else would matter, right? But he goes on. He heals our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, and satisfies our desires, but with what? GOOD THINGS!

The other two verses from today’s segment speak of the Lord’s compassion on us, which is something definitely worthy of our meditation. If not for His compassion, we would surely perish.

After this psalm, we are treated to a glorious picture of Jesus’s ascension, which is too often neglected in our evangelical churches. I just looked it up, and Ascension Day just happens to be tomorrow. So we will talk a bit more about that tomorrow. Unless, of course, I forget.

I think it is noteworthy, though, that, after watching Him ascend, Jesus’s followers returned to Jerusalem “with great joy,” and “stayed continually at the temple, praising God.”

Father, thank You for all Your benefits to my soul and body. Help me to remember and reflect on those benefits, today. Also keep those characteristics mentioned at the top in the front of my mind and spirit today: humility, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, kindness, joy, and love. Fill me with all of those things today, as I walk through this day in Your Kingdom.

Sending God,
how can I possibly represent you to a watching world?
Let me start right here,
on my knees,
seeking the power that comes from on high.
May your Spirit move me toward the world you love.
Amen.
Heidelberg Catechism 117)

BLESSING

Go and make disciples of all nations. . . . And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
(Matthew 28:19-20 NIV)

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”
(Matthew 10:29 NIV)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
(Isaiah 41:10 NLT)

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?”
(Matthew 6:25-27 NLT)

Dear brothers and sisters, be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who patiently wait for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They eagerly look for the valuable harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. Take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.
(James 5:7-8 NLT)

Good advice from Scripture, this morning. And I believe that we handled last night’s “disaster” quite well. We didn’t panic. We didn’t, and are not, this morning, stress out. It’s just a thing. Remember?

“Footstool problems.”

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
(Isaiah 61:1 NLT)

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!
(Isaiah 52:7 NLT)

Lord, make my feet beautiful today. Help me to bring good news to the poor, comfort to the brokenhearted, and to proclaim the deliverance of captives and prisoners. Thank You for Your care and compassion for us, and remind me of this throughout the day, especially when I begin to get stressed over work issues, because that will certainly happen. All glory to You, Lord!

Today, Lord, I lift up all governments, world leaders, and the many, many needs of our world. Taken all together, they are overwhelming to me, but not to You. I also pray specifically for the continent of Australia, today, that Your presence, grace, and mercy would be felt there. May You also be close to those suffering from HIV/AIDS, today, bringing Your healing presence to their bodies and souls.

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)

Hasad veshlom, friends!

The Footstool

Today is Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Peace be with you!

Day 22,959

Yesterday evening, after dinner, I got on the treadmill again, and walked through a “foresty” path in Costa Rica, ending up at a lovely, blue waterfall. The walk was just under thirty minutes and involved walking intervals, five minutes of more intense walking, followed by two minutes of slower walking, repeating that, and then switching to intervals of one minute intense, two minutes slower, for three more times. The faster walks were around three to three and a half miles per hour, which is a pretty good clip for a walk.

I learned, also, how to keep up with the treadmill on a walk that fast. You have to swing your arms faster. That sounds like it would happen without thinking, but I’m not used to walking that fast, and I’m also not used to walking that fast on a treadmill, which gives you no grace, like solid ground does. I have to be careful, or I will find myself in the bookshelf behind the treadmill.

I’ve scheduled my six-month check up at my doctor’s office. Once again, I am excited to appear there, and show them my progress. There’s the weight loss, and then my blood sugar, in my home tests, has been averaging below 95, which is great. Some mornings, like today, it is even below 90. I’m hoping they will reduce my meds.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Eternal God,
who are the light of the minds that know You,
the joy of the hearts that love You,
and the strength of the wills that serve You;
grant us so to know You that we may truly love You,
and so to love You that we may fully serve You,
whom to serve is perfect freedom,
in Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Prayer to Know God, by St. Augustine)

I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus. Through him, God has enriched your church in every way—with all of your eloquent words and all of your knowledge.
(1 Corinthians 1:4-5 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • For a new day in which I woke up, alive and breathing
  • That the Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, in whom I take refuge
  • That Jesus will bring the best to my life
  • My coffee
  • That this earth and its problems is only a “footstool”

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

EPIPHANY – DAY 15

INVITATION

The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.
(Psalms 126:3 NIV)

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of David the servant of the LORD. He sang to the LORD the words of this song when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

I love you, LORD, my strength.

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

I called to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.

In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.
(Psalms 18:1-6 NIV)

He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.
(Psalms 18:16-17 NIV)

BIBLE READING

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
(John 2:1-11 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

Psalms like the one above are among my favorites. I love the passages that use language like this, stating that God is my rock, my fortress, my deliverer, my refuge, and other such words. He is my strong tower; when I stay in His shelter, I am safe and protected from all things. Even pain and death cannot truly harm me.

A word that draws me in, in the passage from John, is the word “best” (verse 10).

Dallas Willard once said that Jesus was the smartest person who ever lived. That’s not something we often consider, but it has to be true. In the case of the Cana wedding, He changed the molecular structure of the liquid in the stone jars. He not only changed the water into wine, it was the best wine that had ever been made.

The Bible doesn’t say that last bit, but I have to believe it is true. If Jesus made it, it would have been the best. At any rate, the master of the banquet declared it was the best wine of the evening.

When we invite Jesus into our lives, as He was invited to this wedding, He will bring the best to our lives. I know . . . this may sound cheesy, but bear with me. Also know that I am not a fan of the concept of “inviting Jesus into your heart.” That idea is found nowhere in Scripture.

When I step into the “easy yoke” with Jesus, at His invitation, I also invite Him to have control over my life, over my circumstances, and over the burdens that I bear. He is the stronger person in this yoke, so my burden immediately becomes easier, lighter. And He proclaimed that His burden is light.

He will bring the best to my life, more than just what is good. Sometimes, we settle for “good” when we could have had “best.” Walking with Jesus will bring us the best of whatever it is that we get.

This doesn’t mean that we will have the best car or the best house. We’re not talking material things, here. However, if my perspective is changed by the Holy Spirit, perhaps the car and house that I have are the “best” . . . for me.

Father, thank You for being my rock and fortress, my refuge to whom I can run and take shelter. Thank You for the “best” that Jesus brings to my life, especially when I acknowledge this and walk with Him in that easy yoke. Help me stay in that yoke with Him, and not step out on my own, thinking I can do an okay job of things. Because inevitably, I will mess it up.

"Joyous God,
I confess my disordered heart seeks out joy
in so many dead ends.
Remind me today of the primary purpose
of my life - 
to glorify you and enjoy you forever.
You make that easy because you have
replaced tired religion with gospel joy.
You are the Lord of the feast.
Amen."
(Westminster Shorter Catechism 1)

BLESSING

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light
(Ephesians 5:8 NIV)

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
(Mark 10:14 NIV)

Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:4 NIV)

“God’s acceptance of a man is for God’s own reasons, and he will not be dictated to by our own ideas of who is fit for the fellowship of his house.” (Eugene Peterson, in A Month of Sundays)

Scripture speaks of the earth as God’s “footstool.” Heaven is His throne, and earth, His footstool. Consider this:

“You live in a footstool world. The earth is just a footstool. It isn’t the place on which you can rest all your weight or your well-being. Its possessions are only footstool possessions. Its issues are only footstool issues. Its problems are only footstool problems. And its glory is only a footstool glory. You don’t sit on a footstool; you just place your feet on top of it . . . on top of its problems, on top of its issues, on top of its glories. You rest your feet on it . . . lightly. That’s the way one must live in a footstool world.”

The Mission: Today, see the world and everything in it in a new way, as the footstool world, with only footstool issues, and live accordingly.”

Lord, today, as I walk with Jesus, may I have fellowship with Him, the risen Christ. Help me to be continually mindful of His presence with me. Give me spiritual renewal and refreshment, even throughout the anxieties and burdens of a day at work. May You also strengthen and refresh Your Church.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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)

Grace and peace, friends.