Displacing Worry with Christ

Today is Friday (I had to think a minute), the twenty-third of September, 2022, in the twenty-fifth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,570

I’ll give a quick update on my cyst removal surgery, yesterday. It went very well, as far as I can tell, with no complications or anything. I’m a little sore, but not in any kind of terrible pain. I can take extra strength Tylenol through the weekend, and then I can take Ibuprofen. I have to leave the bandage on through Saturday, and then need to replace it every day. I go back in two weeks to get the stitches out.

I may not have mentioned that this was happening . . . I don’t remember. But the two cysts were very close together, right on top of my head. They are sending them to pathology, which is routine.

It’s Friday, so I will be in the Computer Center at the library today, from 9:15-6:15. If time allows, I will update Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit, after I finish my devotional.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Our dear Father in heaven, we thank you that you have given us the Lord Jesus on high and that we are allowed to be with him and find joy even while still surrounded by all that must fade and perish. For in Jesus Christ you hold us by the hand through anxiety, need, and death. Grant that he may be with us as we continue our pilgrimage. Grant us your Spirit, for we are poor in spirit and in soul. Give us your Holy Spirit from on high. Just in our weakness we come to know what strength and victory you bring through the Lord Jesus, our Savior. The Lord Jesus is our Savior for body, soul, and spirit for ever and ever. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men." 
(Ephesians 4:8 RSV)
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
(Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s love, poured into our heart through the Holy Spirit
  2. that we can have joy, even though we are surrounded by everything that must fade and perish
  3. for the peace that comes when we allow Christ to displace worry in our lives
  4. that prayer is more than just asking God for stuff; it is fellowship with Him
  5. that “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.
(1 John 1:1-4 ESV emphasis added)

Three times, in those four verses, the author of this little epistle declares that he is an eyewitness to the life of Jesus Christ. And the reason that he is writing this is given, “so that you too may have fellowship with us.”

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:5-10 ESV)

I see this as more of a comparison than an outright command that we must confess sin. If we agree with God (assent or acknowledge) that we have sinned, we will be forgiven; if we claim that we are sinless, we are delusional, “and the truth is not in us.”


Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)

For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths.
(Proverbs 5:21 NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
(Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

If I think too much about the Lord examining all my paths, it might create the anxiety that I am not supposed to have, according to Philippians 4. On the other hand, knowing that my “ways are in full view of the Lord” can bring comfort to me. There is no hiding from God; there is nowhere I can go where God is not. And even though I’m not perfect, even though my thoughts sometimes go places where they should not, I know that my God is already there, and that there is nothing that I can do, say, or think that changes His love for me.

The Philippians passage says, “in every situation.” Interestingly, the Greek word that is translated “every situation” in NIV and “everything” in ESV and NLT is simply “pas.” That word essentially means “all.” There is no further object indicated. This explains why the KJV is translated “every thing.” I like Eugene Peterson’s translation.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns.
(Philippians 4:6 MSG)

We worry about so much, these days. The Christian Church is fraught with worry, and those worries seem to be over such meaningless things. There is an implication here, since we are told that if, instead of worrying, we pray, we will have peace, then the opposite also applies; if we worry instead of praying, we will not have peace.

And that peace that results from praying instead of worrying transcends all understanding. Peterson’s translation here is also wonderful, to me. “It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”

I forgot to finish my thought up there, when I pointed out the part that says “in every situation,” or in “everything.” This includes those situations when we have allowed ourselves to stumble into sin, or when we have allowed negative thoughts to reign in our minds, or when we allow complaining to be the order of the day. Prayer is not just for when we need someone’s healing or provision. Prayer is for everything, for “pas.”


“Love breaks the chains that hold you to the past; it allows for growth, change, and new life. When you accept God’s love, you also accept God’s forgiveness. As you love yourself, you also forgive as you are forgiven and you love even more . . .

“The more control you try to grasp, the less you have; the more control you surrender to God, the more under control your life becomes. Surrendering control doesn’t mean you have become passive or fatalistic. It means you trust that God has given you the physical, emotional, and spiritual tools necessary to negotiate life. To surrender control to God releases the tension within that keeps you from responding to life with all your capacity. When you stop pushing and pulling to have things your way, you are more apt to see things God’s way.”

(Adolfo Quezad, quoted in Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin)

It seems to me that this last paragraph supports the teaching of Philippians 4:6-7.


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Andrew Murray further supports the truth of the Philippians passage. When we give in to anxiety and prayerlessness, we experience self-condemnation. (I am speaking primarily to believers, here.) But, if we pray, instead, as Paul admonishes, “Think of the confidence in the Father that will replace the reproach and self-condemnation that characterized our lives before. Think how the hour of prayer may become the happiest time in our whole day, and how God may use us there to share in carrying out His plans, making us a fountain of blessing to the world around us.”

And then, Murray says, “Prayer is not merely coming to God to ask something of Him. It is, above all, fellowship with God and being brought under the power of His holiness and love.”

I believe this all falls under the truth of the Jeremiah passage. When we pray, we disable the anxiety, we recognize God’s plan for us, and we have peace.


Father, strengthen us to believe in the victory that You have prepared for us. Strengthen us to believe that the blessing that You have for us is greater, far, than anything we could ever imagine! Teach us to pray instead of worry. Teach us to live in the country of grace and forgiveness, rather than in the country of worry and doubt. We will doubt, yes. We are human, and it goes with the territory. But we do not have to live or dwell in that doubt. We do not have to allow our minds to dwell on that doubt.

Give us that peace that passes all comprehension or understanding; help us to live in that promise of life and hope and a future in You. Help us to pray over everything, and in doing so, release the reproach and self-condemnation that we tend to fall into. Help us to remember the great words of Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Even so, come quickly, 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.

Whole-Hearted

Today is Friday, the sixteenth of September, 2022, in the 24th week of Ordinary time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,563

Only six more days until Autumn begins!!

I had a great time having lunch with C, yesterday afternoon. We wound up going to Fred’s Phillies, as expected. This time, we tried, their cheesesteak fries, which were amazing. They could have been a meal by themselves. I also brought sandwiches home to Mama and S, and they both really liked them.

Today being Friday, my new (which is really back to my old) schedule has me working from 9:15-6:15 in the Computer Center today.

There were only eight baseball games, yesterday, none of which included my two favorite teams. There were some important games, though. The White Sox, who are still in the running for the AL Central, beat the Guardians 8-2. The Rays, who are in a Wild Card spot, but behind Toronto, beat said Blue Jays 11-0. That’s right . . . I did not mistype that. And, in doing so, they also did something that has never been done before. On Roberto Clemente day in baseball, the Rays fielded a starting team in which every player was Latino. In addition, they all wore number 21 in tribute to the great Clemente.

I see, this morning, that the MLB website developers brought the E number column back. So now I can tell you that the Rangers’ WCE# is 2 and the Red Sox’s WCE# is 9. Yes, I’m saying there is still a chance.

The Dodgers are still the only team that has clinched a playoff spot. Albert Pujols still has 697 home runs.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Great God and Savior, you want to lead us by the hand so that in communion with you we learn how to live a true life. We thank you for everything we have already received. Guide us still, we pray. Through your Spirit lead us in all areas of our life. Grant us the Spirit, who can illumine our hearts to help us find new courage and new strength and new recognition of the truth. All our praise belongs to you, for you alone can quicken us. You alone free us from the pain of death and from all burdens, so that in spite of toil and struggle we may always be lifted up to you, our God on high, to the glory of your name on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.”
(John 15:26-27 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for the “Advocate,” the Holy Spirit, who helps us daily
  2. for communion with God, in which we learn how to live this life
  3. that if we delight ourselves in God, He will make our steps firm
  4. for the testimony and example of Simon Peter
  5. for the hope of wholeheartedness, may the Holy Spirit help me to seek the Lord with my whole heart

Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple. Since that disciple was known to the high priest, he entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.
(John 18:15-18 ESV)

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
(Proverbs 16:9 NIV)

The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
(Psalms 37:23 NIV)

Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
(Proverbs 16:3 NIV)

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)


There’s some good stuff in those last four verses.

As humans, we tend to, as stated in a previous blog, put the cart before the horse. We are always making our plans, and then praying for God to bless them. I’ve served on staff in a handful of churches in my adult life, and the typical course of action was to have a staff meeting and sit around and brainstorm what we should do next.

There was no question at all brought up as to whether or not we should be “doing something.” There has always been this idea that we have to be busy doing something. And if we don’t feel any strong leadership from the Lord, we must make something up.

And then we pray diligently for God to bless those plans that He didn’t make.

Three of those verses up there have something in common. It is the Lord who establishes the steps, the Lord who makes firm the steps, the Lord who establishes the plans.

Two of them make clear that it is when we delight in Him or commit to Him whatever we do that this happens.

Looking back, I wonder if we were “wholehearted” when we were doing these things. I have no doubt that the pastors had good intentions. But my goodness, for the most part we were so very young. As I’m typing this, I begin to wonder if our churches should allow people who are under forty to be “senior” pastors.

I’m not one of those “never trust anyone under a certain age” kind of people. Don’t misunderstand me. These days, I see more wisdom from younger generations than I see from many people my age.

But a person who has just graduated from seminary (or who even might still be in school) doesn’t have the kind of experience needed to be an effective pastor. But I’m also remembering the practice we had of sticking brand-new church members in children’s Sunday School classes as teachers. Egad.

But I digress.

I want to talk a little bit about the idea of being whole-hearted.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NIV)

We know that when we engage in any earthly task with less than our full attention, or less than wholeheartedly, we tend to not be successful, or, at best, do a mediocre job. “Wholeheartedness is even more essential in spiritual work, and above all, in the high and holy task of prayer and of being well-pleasing to a holy God.” (Andrew Murray)

When we consider this in the context of prayer, Murray says that “Prayerlessness is not an isolated thing to be overcome. It is related to the state of the heart. It is a way of life. True prayer depends on an undivided heart.”

This reminds me of my “life verse,” which is Psalm 86:11.

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
(Psalms 86:11 ESV)

And there we find our dilemma. We cannot give ourselves a whole heart, an undivided heart. Only God can do that for us. But He will. God, by the Holy Spirit, will enable us to seek Him with our whole heart. And then we can commit to Him whatever we do and He will make our steps firm and establish our plans. But it must go in that order, not the other way around.

I’ve heart it said that we should be looking around to see what God is doing, and then join in. I think that is great advice.


Father, I know that I have been less than whole-hearted, probably most of my life. I’m honestly not even sure that we humans are capable of being entirely whole-hearted about anything. We sure love our pet causes and projects, though. Would that we could muster the same energy when we begin to pray.

I want to be whole-hearted for You. And that wholeheartedness must be tempered with love and compassion. There is a difference between being whole-hearted and being obsessed with something.

What I desire in my life is to be seen as one who loves You with all my heart, and in doing so, also loves those around me with that same attitude. There is a calmness, I believe, that comes with this. Activity is not frantic or panic-driven. It is steady and calm, with the confidence that You are there and that You are working Your plan, which should also be our plans.

Father, as the psalmist prayed, I too pray, unite my heart to fear Your name. Teach me Your way, that I may walk in Your truth. Help me to seek You with my whole heart, that I might find You, that I might commit my ways to You, that You would make my steps firm.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths.
(Psalms 25:4 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Be Like-Minded

Today is Friday, September 9, 2022, in the 23rd week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your soul!

Day 23,556

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord God, we thank you that it is your will to strengthen us through your presence, through Jesus Christ, the leader of your cause, who is and remains victor among all on earth. Our souls need strength and our hearts need confidence so that in our time we can draw near to you and to your kingdom. Bless us with the Holy Spirit whenever we begin to grow weary. Your Holy Spirit can give us the strength to believe and hope, the strength to see the salvation that is coming to give joy to all the world. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.
(Ephesians 6:10-11 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for coffee
  2. for the strength and confidence to draw near to God, daily
  3. for the Holy Spirit, who gives us that strenght
  4. for the joy that comes in the presence of the Lord, the pleasures at His right hand
  5. for the possibilities that come in a life of abiding in God’s Word

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)

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
(1 Peter 3:8 NIV)

“This is what the LORD Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.'”
(Zechariah 7:9-10 NIV)

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
(2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
(John 15:7 NIV)


There is certainly joy in the presence of the Lord, “pleasures forevermore” at His right hand. And it is abiding in, dwelling in, that presence that gives us the power to do the things that are required in the other Scriptures, here.

Peter admonishes us to be to be “like-minded,” to be unified in thought. Be honest . . . do you see that in today’s church? I don’t. And the reason is, in my humble opinion, is that we are focusing on issues and concerns that are not the highest priorities of the Church. It is impossible to be unified or like-minded when we insist on centering our thoughts on controversial issues. We like to argue too much; it seems as though we thrive on it.

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.
(1 Timothy 4:7 ESV)

O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”
(1 Timothy 6:20 ESV)

In the second half of the verse from 1 Peter, he tells us to be “compassionate and humble.” I don’t see much of that going on, right now, either. Now, mind you, the tragedy is that what we see is coming from the groups of people who are making the most noise.

I guarantee you that there are some honestly godly people out there, quietly going about the business of working the Gospel in this world. But those aren’t the people that the “world” is seeing, right now.

The admonitions of Peter go hand in hand with the direction in Zechariah. The real tragedy is what is said in the verse immediately following the ones I quoted up there.

“But they refused to pay attention; stubbornly they turned their backs and covered their ears.”
(Zechariah 7:11 NIV)

And that is what I’m seeing in a large part of the church, today. Refusal to listen to God’s Word, and focusing on their own opinions, driven by human beings.

This becomes the reason that prayers are not answered, when considered in light of John 15:7. For most of my life, I have seen many people focus so much on the second half of that verse that they miss the requirement in the first half. Everyone wants to jump to the “ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” part.

But they miss that bit about abiding, remaining, dwelling. If we truly abide in Christ and in His word, the possibilities are endless.

And I’m out of time, this morning.


Father, I thank You for the truths that are presented in Your Word, today. May we, Your Church, successfully abide in Christ and in His Word, that we might be faithful ministers of the Gospel, administering true justice, showing mercy and compassion, being like-minded, not oppressing the widows and the fatherless and the foreigner and the poor. May we never be found to be plotting evil against one another.

Help us to love one another the way Christ has loved us.

Even so, come quickly, 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.

“Talk No More So Very Proudly”

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Today is Friday, September 2, 2022, in the 22nd week of Ordinary Time.

Look at all those twos!

May the peace of Christ dwell in your heart today!

Day 23,549

I’m late today, because of several things. First, I started playing a tournament round on Golf Clash, and I was playing so well that I dare not quit. In fact, I’m currently in first place. Unfortunately, it is only a qualifying round, so there are no prizes for this round, just the privilege of advancing to the weekend round.

Second, I needed to get a grocery order in, to be delivered later today. This required frequent trips back and forth to the kitchen, and multiple conversations with other members of the house. But that is done, and meals are planned for most of next week. Tonight, I’m planning to cook one of our favorites, Pecan Crusted Buttermilk Chicken, a WW recipe. I have a side dish planned, as well, that will be a surprise.

I don’t work today, and it may or may not be my last Friday off. That is TBD. The new computer center person starts today, though, so it will be soon.

It rained yesterday, and has rained on and off, this morning, as well. Our high, yesterday was 85, but when we walked out of the library last night at shortly after 8:00 PM, we all agreed that it was difficult to breathe, as the air seemed quite “moist.” “Swimmable” was one word that was used. Today’s high is expected to be 88, with the next two days being in the low nineties. This changes from day to day, but the rest of the ten-day forecast predicts temps in the mid-to-upper eighties, with slim to moderate chances of rain each day.

After starting pitcher Glenn Otto scored a career-high eight strikeouts, last night, the Texas Rangers bullpen erased a five-run lead, giving up four of those in the bottom of the ninth, to lose to the Boston Red Sox 9-8. As one might expect, I am always conflicted when these two teams play each other. However, for a number of years, now, my primary allegiance has been with the Texas Rangers. So I’m sad to see them lose, especially like that! The Rangers, now having lost five in a row, are 58-72 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, a game and a half ahead of the Angels. They are 25.5 out of first place (this is not the largest disparity between first and third place, but it is close), and 12.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their elimination number (my, it seems early to be seeing those), at least as far as the division goes, is only seven games. This means that any combination of Rangers losses and Astros wins eliminates them from any chance of winning the division. I gave up on that a long time ago, though. Their WC elimination number is 21. They have 32 games left.

The Red Sox are 64-68 on the season, and remain in last place in the AL East. They are six games behind the Orioles, 15.5 out of first place, and 7.5 out of a Wild Card spot. Their division elimination number is 16, and their WCE number is 25. They have 30 games left. The Rangers and Red Sox play again tonight at 6:10 CDT. Dallas Kuechel will start for the Rangers, so I don’t expect much.

The Dodgers have lost two in a row, which makes their chances of breaking a wins record slimmer. They remain at 90 wins, and top MLB with a 90-40 record. They must win 27 of 32 remaining games to break the record. The Nationals are at the bottom of MLB, with 45-86. The Seattle Mariners have the longest current winning streak, at four consecutive games. The Giants still have the longest losing streak, at seven. The Rangers are apparently trying to catch them. The Dodgers have a league leading run differential, at +284, and the Nats maintain the lowest, at -214. The Pirates, however, are only 13 runs ahead of the Nats. The Rangers, in spite of that five-game losing streak, are still in the positive column, with +2, and the Red Sox are at -53.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, you are always near to us on earth, and we thank you for all the love you put into our lives so that we can be joyful, even in all kinds of temptations and struggles. How much you have given us and how often you have rescued us from distress! Again and again you have let the light of life shine out. You give us light not only for the moment but also for the future, enabling us to draw strength and assurance from the present, the past, and the future, to the glory of your name. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; . . . through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. 
(2 Corinthians 6:4-5, 8-10 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

  1. that our Father in heaven is always near to us on earth
  2. that we Christians in at least this country have not experienced most of the things in that Scripture passage
  3. that, even if we find ourselves having nothing, we do, indeed possess everything in Christ
  4. that God loves us unconditionally; may I love you in the same way
  5. that when I miserably fail to do number 4, God continues to bless me, anyway, in order to teach me patience, humility, and compassion

“To Me,” by Daryl Madden

For nothing’s deserved
You bless all for free
Lord, Let me share
The grace given to me

Lord, never ending
Is your great mercy
Lord, let me forgive
As you’ve forgiven me

You love every soul
Unconditionally
Lord, help me to love
How you have loved me

We know I will fail
Miserably
And Lord you bless more
To teach patience to me

I find myself echoing this prayer, today, especially the last two stanzas. It is my desire to love all as God has loved me, yet I, too, fail miserably. Please visit Daryl’s blog site at the link provided above.


“New Every Day,” by S. Michaels/LightWriters

Let songs rise on eagle’s wings
I will not fail to restore
I will not fail you…ever

©2022 S. Michaels
Always Believe
(Prophetic Haiku 7-7-7)

It’s rare that I feature more than one poem, but this one spoke mightily to me, today, as well. God will not fail us; He will not fail to restore; He will not fail us, ever! Please visit Susan’s blog site, at the link provided above. She also includes lovely images with each of her poems.


Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.”
(John 9:39-41 ESV)

As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
(2 Chronicles 7:1-3 ESV)


May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
(Romans 15:13 ESV)


But the LORD has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
(Psalms 94:22 ESV)

“There is none holy like the LORD: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God. Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.”
(1 Samuel 2:2-3 ESV)

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

There is no one who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to take hold of you; for you have hidden your face from us, and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
(Isaiah 64:7 ESV)


There are a lot of different topics, seemingly, in the assortment of Scriptures that I read, today. It is sobering to think that one of Jesus’s purposes on earth was to give sight to the blind, and, at the same time, blind those who claim to be able to see. In some ways, not much has changed in a couple thousand years.

The scene in 2 Chronicles is seen more than once in the Old Testament. After certain prayers, the Spirit of God occupies the temple/tabernacle to the degree that the priests are unable to perform their duties. The Glory of God is so thick, in these instances, that humans cannot endure His presence. I, personally, have not experienced this in any worship service I have ever attended.

But, for me, the big message today is hope. Our God is the God of hope, and the verse in Romans is a prayer that He would fill us with joy and peace, so that, by the power of His Spirit, we abound in hope.

What is hope? The dictionary definition is, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Or, there is a more archaic definition, “a feeling of trust.” It can also, of course, be a verb, meaning, “want something to happen or be the case.”

Our hope, as believers and followers of Christ, I believe, is more along the lines of the archaic definition. We certainly have an expectation or desire for certain things to happen, but it is more than, say, “I hope the Rangers win tonight.” Our hope, in the Lord, is a strong sense of expectation that is built on trust. Hope sustains us.

There is a quote by Hal Lindsey (I really would not have chosen to quote him, but here it is) that says, “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”

An exaggeration, to be sure, but there is some truth to the thought. We can “live” without hope, but is it truly “living?”

And besides being my hope, the Lord is also my stronghold, my refuge, my fortress, and all those other kinds of words that we find over and over in the Psalms, probably my favorite book in the Bible.

And check that quote from 1 Samuel. We love to quote that bit about “there is none holy like the Lord.” But we always stop before verse 3, which commands us to “talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth.”

Oops.

I’m seeing a lot of pride and arrogance coming out of our mouths, these days. Way too much.

And, in addition to the pride and arrogance, there seems to be a lack of prayer, in general. Now, I cannot truly judge how much another person prays. I really don’t have a clue. But I can surmise, from the actions and public words of many people, that if they do pray, the content of their prayers is quite shallow.

“If we desire to grow from strength to strength and to experience God’s power in sanctification and blessing on others, we must be more persevering in prayer. . . . Unless we are willing to pay the price to sacrifice our time and attention along with the seemingly legitimate or necessary tasks for the sake of attaining to the spiritual gifts, we need not expect power from above in our work.” (Andrew Murray)

Major ouch, there.

To sum all of this up, I will draw your attention back to Psalm 61:1-4.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; 
from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. 
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I, 
for you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 
Let me dwell in your tent forever! 
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! 
Selah.
(Psalms 61:1-4 ESV)

Father, may we pray diligently, in all humility, and in all hope, expecting You to answer, expecting You to grow us from strength to strength. Lead us to that Rock that is higher than we. And in order to allow You to do that, we must confess that there is, in fact, a Rock that is higher than we, which also requires humility.

Strike pride and arrogance from our lips, especially in the public domain. Let our words on social media be tempered with humility and compassion; let us be seen as people who know and walk with Jesus Christ, that people may, indeed, know we are His disciples by our love, not by how hard we can throw a Bible at someone.

Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wins, my God. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I, for I am truly a lowly servant. Teach me to pray more diligently, in more humility, and may my prayers reflect Your will on earth as it is in heaven.

Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!


"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Grace and peace, friends.

Jesus in Gethsemane

Today is Friday, the 26th of August, 2022, in the 21st week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your heart!

Day 23,542

I’m getting closer to going back to working Fridays at the library, rather than Thursdays. The new computer center person has been hired and is going through the HR processing. She could possibly begin next week. In spite of the fact that I will lose my alternating four-day weekends, I am okay with this. I would rather not be working two evenings a week. If it starts next week, however, I could possibly wind up working five days in a row, next week, since Thursday and Friday fall in different pay weeks for the city. It’s all good, though.

The Texas Rangers didn’t play yesterday, and begin a home series with the Detroit Tigers tonight. They have 38 games left.

The Red Sox lost again to the Blue Jays, last night, 6-5, completing a sweep and increasing their losing streak to four games. And, to make matters worse, they face the streaking Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend. The Sox are now 60-65 for the season, in last place in the AL East, 17 games out of first place and eight out of a Wild Card Spot. They have 37 games left.

The current Wild Card standings have Tampa, Toronto, and Seattle still in the three AL Wild Card spots. Houston, New York, and Cleveland lead their divisions. In the NL, LA, NY, and St. Louis lead their divisions, and Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Diego hold the Wild Card spots.

The Dodgers didn’t play last night, and still have the best MLB record, at 86-37. They are 7-3 in their last ten games. In order to break the all time season win record of 116, they would have to win 31 of their remaining 39 games. Certainly doable, but not likely. The Nationals, on the other end of things, are the worst MLB team, with a 42-83 record. With 37 games left, they would have to lose all of those games to tie the worst record in modern history, which is the 1962 Mets, at 40-120. At least they won’t do that, probably.

As previously mentioned, the Tampa Bay Rays lead the league with a six-game winning streak, and are heading to Boston, who currently has a four-game losing streak. They aren’t the worst, though, as the Twins and Angels are both “enjoying” a six-game losing streak. In the run differential department, the Dodgers will likely finish the season on top, with +275 currently. There will likely be no records broken, though, as the best run differential in history is by the St. Louis Maroons in 1884 (+458). It is possible, however, that the Nationals might not end on the bottom. They currently have -209, but the Pirates have -192, which isn’t that far behind (ahead?). The worst in history is the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, with -723. They also have the worst season record in history, at 20-134. As for individual games, the Texas Rangers still have the best single game run differential in modern times, when they beat the Baltimore Orioles 30-3 on August 22, 2007. The current Rangers are still at +16 for this season, while the Red Sox have fallen to +45.

There are a few tasks in the day ahead, but not much, so I’ll get on to what’s ultimately important.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, be our Father and care for your children here on earth, where it is often bitterly hard and where everything seems to turn against us. Keep us faithful in our inner life, drawing all our strength from you, the eternal power of life, and from Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. For Jesus has promised to come to us, and you will send him in our time of need. Let your strong hand be with those who often do not know where to turn. Show us paths we can follow, to the glory of your name in all eternity. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
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)

Today I am grateful:

  1. for God’s strong hand of love
  2. that the Lord will show me His ways and teach me His paths, and my hope is in Him, “all day long”
  3. that the more I soak myself in Jesus and His words, the more I can see that I, as well as all of my neighbors, are beloved
  4. for all the saints, brothers and sisters in Christ, that are in my life and have ever been in my life and ever will be in my life
  5. that Jesus, when faced with the ultimate crisis in Gethsemane, surrendered to His Father’s will, procuring the power and authority to ask anything of the Father; we, His brothers and sisters, share in that power

“Beloved,” by Daryl Madden

Jesus, Jesus, Jesus
You’re the beloved one
I praise you as my Savior
For everything you’ve done

Soaking, soaking, soaking
Claim my treasure, true
Through your gracious mercy
I’m the beloved too

Seeing, seeing, seeing
In each neighbor aware
They are the beloved
In this binding share

Grateful, grateful, grateful
Let our binding be
In our belovedness
Loving joyfully

As we soak ourselves in Jesus, our Beloved, we can more easily see the “belovedness” of our neighbors, and be grateful that we are beloved, as well. Please check out more of Daryl’s inspirational poems at the link provided above.


"It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 
After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, "Do you want to go away as well?" Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."
(John 6:63-69 ESV)

I thank my God every time I remember you.
(Philippians 1:3 NIV)

And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
(Mark 14:35-36 ESV)


Jesus speaks to us words of spirit and life. The flesh is of little consequence. This does not mean, however, as some would have us believe, that the flesh is totally evil and only the spirit is good. This results in heresy known as Gnosticism.

After Jesus’s teachings in John 6, some left Him. His true disciples, however, recognized that there was nowhere else left to turn. “You have the words of eternal life,” they acknowledged.

And, “Because of the entire surrender of His will in Gethsemane, the High Priest on the throne had the power to ask what He would. He also has the right to let His people share in that power and ask what they will.” (Andrew Murray)

Murray further says, “if He had to say, ‘Yet not what I will,’ how much more do we need to say it? . . . it is precisely here that we have sure ground and an open way to assurance of an answer to our prayers.”

As I pray for various saints (and for some who may not be “saints”), I keep this in mind. There are times when I admit that I do not feel quite comfortable praying exactly what someone has requested of me. There are other times when I am not sure how to verbalize their prayer request in my own prayers. Those are times when “Thy will be done” is a phrase that is very close to my heart.

I find myself echoing Jesus’s Gethsemane prayer frequently. Not that I have a “cup” that I am asking God to take away from me. Rather, though, I would prefer God’s will over my own in any given situation. I also ask Him, frequently, to let me know if my own “will” is simply wrong. I am always open (unlike a lot of folks, apparently) to the notion that any of my opinions might be wrong.


Father, when I think of the saints in my life, I thank You. I have not always been able to echo Paul’s words in that passage from Philippians, but I am closer to it today, than I have ever been. I am grateful for the presence of Your saints in my life. Help me to see Your face in all of them; help me to observe Your Holy Spirit working in all of them. And help me to love them authentically, and “on purpose.” That is a phrase that someone brought to my attention today, and I like it. When we love people, it should always be “on purpose.”

Father, I pray, in all circumstances, that Your will would be done, on earth as in heaven. Whatever is supposed to take place will take place, of that I am sure. You are working Your plan, and it will be carried out. I don’t know the details; I may not want to know some of them, to be honest. I’m not sure that I desire to be around when Your final Day arrives. I have confidence and faith that my “life” will continue on beyond that Day, though. I only pray, though, that, should true persecution arise in my country, that I will be faithful to stand with You in all circumstances.

Help me to echo the prayer of Jesus in Gethsemane: Not my will, by Yours be done. May that be true of all of my prayers. I thank You for the responsibility and privilege that You have give me, that of praying for others. I confess that I am not always as faithful to carry that out as I should be. But You have been impressing that upon me, more and more, of late, and for that I am also grateful. Just yesterday, I saw an earnest prayer answered for a beloved sister in Christ. All glory and honor to You, and I continue to pray for that specific situation, that Your presence would be on that family and things would go well for them.

May I be as surrendered to You as my Savior was in Gethsemane. May I know the power that comes in prayer from that surrender, that I might receive anything that I ask for. Just help me to not be asking for frivolous things or things that are not part of Your will for me or others.

I thank You for the words of life that come from Jesus. Truly, as His disciples said, we have nowhere else to turn, for He has the true words of spirit and life. “The flesh is no help at all.”

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Grace and peace, friends.

“My God Will Hear Me”

It is Friday, the nineteenth of August, 2022, in the 20th week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ reign in your soul today!

Day 23,535

And today is the day! Our beloved S turns 29 today! The presents have already been opened, but the cookie cake is waiting until after lunch. The birthday girl requested donuts for breakfast, so I went out and got them. It’s probably the first time I have been out and about between 7:30 and 8:00 AM in well over a year.

THERE WERE PEOPLE OUT THERE!! It was awful!! There was . . . shudder . . . TRAFFIC!!!

But I managed to get the donuts, in spite of the fact that the donut shop was already totally out of any kind of buttermilk donuts! Egad!

So the order of the day is as follows: bowling first. Then we will have lunch at Martha’s Mexican Cocina, and then we will get pedicures. Maybe mani/pedis. Who knows? After that, we collapse. Tomorrow, I must work at the library, and after I finish that, we will have sushi for dinner.

The Texas Rangers beat the Athletics 10-3, yesterday, to win the series. They are now 53-65, still in third place in the AL West, 23 out of first place, and 10.5 out of a Wild Card spot. The general consensus seems to be that they are out of any contention for the playoffs, this year. However, they are not mathematically eliminated, yet, and there are 44 games remaining. They begin a four-game series in Minnesota tonight.

The Red Sox lost to the Pirates, 8-2, but won the series. They are 59-60 for the season, and still in last place in the AL East, fourteen out of first place, and five out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a series in Baltimore tonight.

The Dodgers remain the best MLB team, at 81-36. The Nationals remain the worst, at 40-80. I keep waiting for their losses to catch up with the Dodgers’ wins. The Cardinals have the current win streak, with four games. The Rockies have the worst losing streak, at five games. The Dodgers have the best run differential, at +249, and the Nationals are still the worst, with -210. The Rangers are at -3, and the Red Sox are at -31.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear God and our Father, if only we have you, we desire nothing more in heaven or on earth. Body and soul may fail, but you, O God, are the strength and comfort of our hearts and you are ours forever. May we live in your Spirit and may your light shine over us. Touch our hearts and help us understand the greatness of what you call us to. Help us and free us again and again so that we are not bound by fear, even when we must pass through intense suffering. For your hand shall be with us and shall rescue us. Your hand shall bring about good for us and for all the people around us. Our hearts go out to them and we plead for them too, "Lord, send your Savior to all." Amen.
(Daily Prayer, from Plough.com)

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalms 73:25-26 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that even though my flesh and heart fail, God is my strength forever
2. that, having my Father in heaven, through the Son and by the Spirit, I desire nothing else in heaven or on earth
3. that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, Son of the living God, crucified for our sins, buried, and rose again on the third day
4. for the confidence that, in times when I am afraid, I can trust in the Lord
5. that our Father in heaven, Creator of everything we see and know, hears our prayers

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
(John 4:13-14 ESV)

The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
(John 4:25-26 ESV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
(Psalms 56:3 NIV)

Of David. The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
(Psalms 27:1 NIV)

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
(Psalms 34:4 NIV)

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Do not be afraid, you worm Jacob, little Israel, do not fear, for I myself will help you,” declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.
(Isaiah 41:13-14 NIV)

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
(Micah 7:7 NIV)


Once again, I find that I have little to say in addition to these Scriptures. Jesus, Himself, proclaimed Himself to be the Messiah. Because of Him, we have confidence (or at least we should have confidence) that our Father hears our prayers.

Our God is always near us, as He is omnipresent. Therefore, when we find ourselves facing fear, rational or not, we can have the confidence and faith to trust in Him. He is our light and our salvation; who shall we fear? If God is the stronghold of my life, of whom should I be afraid?

What can separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus? Hunger, pain, sickness, death? Politics, racial issues, governors, presidents?

The person, the human being who occupies the White House or the governor’s office has absolutely no effect whatsoever on my relationship with my God or my standing in Him!

Because of the effectual and perfect work of Jesus Christ, not even my sin can separate me from God!

There is so much fear in our world right now, and much of it is begin expressed (thought it might be disguises) by Christians, of all people! Why are so many people afraid? I can only surmise that they do not, in fact, trust in their God. They faith and hope is not, in fact, in Christ Jesus. They have errantly placed their faith in humans and their institutions.

This is to their shame.

I guess I had more to say than I thought.


Father, I praise You for the confidence that You have nurtured in me; confidence in You and You alone, to the point that I have no fear of what a man can do to me. You are my light and my salvation; You are near to me, always, as You have promised. Therefore, I have nothing to fear; therefore, this world, this universe, is a perfectly safe place for me to be.

I pray for all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, that they might know this same confidence, that they might be able to set aside their irrational fears and stop trusting in “princes” to rescue them.

As for me, I watch and I wait for You; I know that You will hear me when I call to You.

I do believe! Help my unbelief!

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Praise the LORD! 

Praise the LORD, O my soul!
 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; 
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. 

Put not your trust in princes, 
in a son of man,
 in whom there is no salvation. 
When his breath departs, 
he returns to the earth; 
on that very day his plans perish. 
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
 whose hope is in the LORD his God, 
who made heaven and earth, 
the sea, and all that is in them, 
who keeps faith forever; 
who executes justice for the oppressed, 
who gives food to the hungry. 
The LORD sets the prisoners free; 
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. 
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; 
the LORD loves the righteous. 
The LORD watches over the sojourners; 
he upholds the widow and the fatherless, 
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 
The LORD will reign forever, 
your God, O Zion, to all generations. 

Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 146:1-10 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Sheep or Goat?

Today is Friday, the twelfth of August, 2022, in the nineteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you!

Day 23,528

Only SEVEN more days until S turns 29!!

Yesterday was quite busy in the computer center. There weren’t a lot of patrons, but, at least early in the day, there were quite a few who needed assistance. This, of course, kept me busy, which made the day go faster. It slowed down significantly after my lunch break, and I had a nice conversation with the manager during the last hour of the evening.

The high temperature yesterday only hit 97, which was what was predicted. There was no rain yesterday, and not really any predicted today, either. Today’s high is also predicted to be 97. Yesterday’s record high is 106. I do wish the site would tell me when that occurred. Over the ten-day forecast, there are only four with 100 or higher, and the highest is 102. S’s birthday is predicted to be 96.

The Texas Rangers lost to the Houston Astros 7-3, yesterday. It was probably worse than the score suggests, as it was 7-0, at one point. The new pitcher, Ragans, was the loser. The Rangers are now at 49-62, still in third place in the AL West, 22 games out of first place, and 9.5 out of a Wild Card spot. They begin a weekend series with the Seattle Mariners tonight, in Arlington.

The Boston Red Sox won their single game against the Orioles, last night. Is anyone else surprised?? Final score was 4-3. Newcomer to the team, Eric Hosmer provided the game-winning RBI. The Sox are now 55-58, still in last place in the AL East, 16.5 games out of first place, and 4.5 out of a Wild Card spot. The O’s have moved to within a half game of a Wild Card spot, now. And, honestly, if the Rangers or the Red Sox don’t make the playoffs, if the Orioles do, I would probably pull for them. On the other hand, Tito still manages the Cleveland Guardians, so I might root for him, too. There are still approximately fifty games left, though (it differs from team to team). A lot can happen in fifty games.

There were only eight games played, yesterday, so the only stats that changed were the run differentials for my two favorite teams. Everything else remained static. The Rangers now have a -3 differential, while the Red Sox improved by one run, to -35.

I’m off today, since it is Friday. That will likely change, soon, however. One of the other part time aides is leaving us, his last day today. He had been one who only worked in the computer center (I’m a “floater,” working in three different departments). I have been informed that, once someone is hired and trained to replace him, I will be moved back to my old Friday schedule for the computer center, which is perfectly fine with me. While I have enjoyed the every-other-week four-day-weekend, I would prefer to not have to work two nights a week. Fridays would be the same schedule as Wednesdays, which is 9:15-6:15. So, on my “heavy” weeks, I would work Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, with Thursday off in the middle. A little more balanced.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

“Though,” by Daryl Madden

Come to watch the light shine
Though nothing’s there to see
Only through reflection
The colors come to be

Come to feel the wind blow
Though nothing’s really there
Only through the movement
It’s affects appear

Come listen to the silence
Though nothing to be heard
Only through our faith
Will we hear the Word

Come seek the divine
Though there’s no human way
Only through the Spirit
With vision, let us pray

I simply love this poem. Please check out Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


Lord our God, you are our strength and shield. Our hearts hope in you and we are helped. Accept us from among all the nations as a people who want to serve you. Strengthen our hearts, especially when we must be tested in every way and must face the many hardships that will come when we take up our task of proclaiming your name and witnessing to you. For you are strong and can protect us. You can fill us with light and with joy to proclaim again and again the salvation that is coming through your all-powerful goodness and mercy, salvation in Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
(Psalms 28:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that the Lord is my strength and shield, and that my heart trusts Him, and He helps me
2. that the Body of Christ is made up of people from all nations
3. for the light and joy we receive that enable us to proclaim the message of His love and salvation
4. that Jesus sums up the entirety of the law and the prophets with the two greatest commands
5. that God continues to drive my heart toward love

The great day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast; 
the sound of the day of the LORD is bitter; 
the mighty man cries aloud there. 
A day of wrath is that day, a 
day of distress and anguish, 
a day of ruin and devastation, 
a day of darkness and gloom, 
a day of clouds and thick darkness, 
a day of trumpet blast and battle cry
 against the fortified cities 
and against the lofty battlements. 

I will bring distress on mankind, so that they shall walk like the blind, 
because they have sinned against the LORD; 
their blood shall be poured out like dust, 
and their flesh like dung. 
Neither their silver nor their gold shall be able to deliver them on the day of the wrath of the LORD. 
In the fire of his jealousy, 
all the earth shall be consumed; 
for a full and sudden end 
he will make of all the inhabitants of the earth.
(Zephaniah 1:14-18 ESV)

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.
(Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
(Proverbs 4:23 NLT)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
(1 John 4:7 ESV)

“May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.” ~ Edward Grinnan, Daily Guideposts 2022

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
(John 13:34-35 ESV)


I don’t have a lot of my own words, today. I got some emotional chill bumps from Edward Grinnan’s prayer, today, as well as from the content of his reading for the day. The prayer seems to paraphrase Jesus’s words in that “parable” about the sheep and the goats. I put parable in quotation marks because I’m not so sure it’s an actual parable. In fact, the ESV does not call it a parable.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

There may be some serious surprises on this day, when some people who believe they are “righteous” get their due reward.

Today's sources:
YouVersion daily Bible reading plan
Abide meditation
Daily Guideposts 2022

Father, in heaven, as we pray, sometimes in vain repetitions, but, nevertheless, for Your kingdom to come and Your will be done on earth as in heaven, is it the words of Jesus that we are considering? For I truly desire Your will on earth as it is in heaven. And, if I read the words of Jesus correctly, that will is for the hungry to be fed, the thirsty to be given water to drink, the strangers, immigrants, and refugees to be welcomed, the naked to be clothed, and the sick and in prison to be visited and cared for.

I can’t help but wonder what the self-righteous among us think they are praying for when they repeat those words? I can’t help but wonder what the bigot means when he prays for Your Kingdom to come and Your will to be done. I don’t think he really wants Your will at all. I think he wants his own misguided vision of what he thinks Your will must be.

Have mercy, Father! Show Yourself in our midst! Show Your power in our land. Mold our hearts that we might share in believing the truths that Jesus proclaimed when He was walking the earth, that His teachings about the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, the imprisoned, would become our core beliefs as we strive to walk in His steps and in His words.

Because this is what love looks like. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” And I will echo brother Grinnan’s prayer. “May I always embrace the outcast, give hope to the hopeless, love the unloved, reach out to the unreached. May I always reflect the love of Christ for those most in need.”

Even so, come soon, 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.

Ambassadors for Christ

Today is Friday, the fifth of August, 2022, in the eighteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ be with you today!

Day 23,521

Fourteen days until S turns 29!

I’m off to a late start today, because I needed to get a grocery order in for this afternoon. Also, I picked out a couple of new recipes to try next week.

Our heat wave continued with a high of 101, yesterday. That was our 39th day of 100+ temps for this summer, and the fifth in the current streak (the longest streak, so far, was fourteen days). There was no rain, yesterday. However, the high had been forecast at 104, so we caught a slight break, there. Today’s high is also projected at 104, followed by 100 tomorrow. Over the next ten days, the current forecast shows five of them possibly being below 100. However, the chance of rain seems minimal. Yesterday’s record high was 104.

The Texas Rangers managed to win a game, last night, beating the Other Sox 3-2. This makes them 47-58 for the season. They remain in third place in the AL West, 21 games out of first place, and nine games out of the Wild Card race. They play again tonight, at 7:05 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Royals. I need to let that sink in for a second. If that’s how the rest of the season is going to go, it may be best to stop looking. Final was 7-3. The Sox are in last place in the AL East, but would be in third or fourth place in every other MLB division. The AL East has four teams over .500. There are only two other divisions that have three teams, and the other three only have two. Anyway, the Sox are 53-54, 17.5 out of first place, and only four games out of a Wild Card spot. They play the Royals again, tonight, at 7:10 CDT, in KC.

The Dodgers continue to be the best MLB team, with a 71-33 record, while the Nationals are holding firmly at the bottom, with 36-70. The Padres still have the longest current win streak, at five games, while the Rockies still have the longest current losing streak, also at five games. I’m thinking there weren’t many games, yesterday, because most of these stats seem to be the same as yesterday. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents by 208 runs, while the Nationals have been outscored by 172. The Rangers are now at -3, and the Red Sox have dropped to -20.

It’s Friday, so I am off work today, and will be back at the library tomorrow in the circulation department.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Dear Father in heaven, we come to you and seek communion with you because we know that all life comes from you, all progress among us depends on you, and our innermost being can be strengthened through your Spirit. Protect us and renew our strength time and again so that your will may be done among us and we may all find courage for our lives, even when many difficulties loom up around us. Grant that we may remain your servants and go joyfully to meet what is to come. Bless us today and every day according to your promises. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
(John 6:68-69 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the communion with God that is available in Christ and by the Spirit
2. that all life comes from our Father in heaven
3. for the inner strength that comes from His Spirit
4. that God pardons iniquity, passes over transgressions, does not retain His anger forever, and delights in steadfast love (Micah 7)
5. for the light that shines in darkness, and that darkness cannot overcome it

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-15 ESV)

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(2 Corinthians 5:20-21 ESV)

Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
(Micah 7:18-20 ESV)

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
(John 1:5 NIV)

But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
(Psalms 31:14-15 ESV)

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.
(Psalms 37:5-6 ESV)

It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.
(Psalms 118:8-9 ESV)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
(1 John 4:7-21 ESV)

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”
(Matthew 6:5 NIV)

What is an ambassador?

When I was a young boy, there was a group in the church called “Royal Ambassadors,” also known as “RA’s.” Apparently, it still exists, for boys in grades 1-6. It was, and still is, a mission-minded organization, designed to help boys develop a “Biblical worldview.” It used to fall under the auspices of the “WMU,” otherwise known as “Women’s Missionary Union.” There used to be a corresponding girl’s organization, which was called “GA’s,” which, I believe, stood for “Girls in Action.” Apparently, they still exist, as well.

I don’t really remember much about the program. And I’m really keying in more on the word “ambassador.” See the verses above in 2 Corinthians 5.

The standard dictionary definition of ambassador is, “an accredited diplomat sent by a country as its official representative to a foreign country.” The second definition goes like this: “a person who acts as a representative or promoter of a specified activity.”

Neither one of those definitions fits Paul’s writing, exactly, but if we combine the two together, we might get close. And Webster simply calls it, “an authorized representative or messenger,” which works better, as it doesn’t say anything about a “specified activity.”

We are, says Paul, ambassadors for Christ. We are His representatives or messengers, and I think it’s fair to say that we are even “authorized.”

One of the jobs of an ambassador is to be a diplomat for person or organization/country he or she is representing. So let’s look up diplomat.

“An official representing a country abroad.” “A person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way.” Webster calls it someone who is “skilled in diplomacy,” which forces us to look up yet another word.

Diplomacy is “skill in handling affairs without arousing hostility.”

You might already see where I’m going with this.

Basically, I’m getting at what I have been harping about for a while, now, and that is the blatant failure of the “evangelical church” as “ambassadors for Christ.”

As ambassadors, we have several responsibilities. And those responsibilities could easily be summed up by those two greatest commands that I talk about so often. But we also get a great picture of that in the lengthy passage from 1 John 4, above, about loving one another.

And, in Matthew 6, during the first major bit of teaching that Jesus gives His disciples, we learn a lot. We learn that God is not only King, but Father. We learn that “He not only gives all but is all.” (Andrew Murray) We also learn that knowledge of and fellowship with God are truly all the reward we need.

If you think about it, there really wasn’t a lot of teaching on prayer until Jesus hit the scene. We certainly didn’t get any from Moses, or much from the prophets. “It is Christ,” says Murray, “who teaches us to pray.”

He teaches us that we need a “secret place for prayer.” He has also taught us that worship is not confined to a specific time or place, but comes “from within the spirit and life of a believer.”

However, if, during our times of worship, we “are primarily occupied with our own thoughts and exercise, we will not meet Him who is Spirit. But to the one who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and the flesh and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal himself.”

What does all this have to do with being an ambassador? I believe that, if we are truly following the teachings of Jesus regarding prayer and worship, that we will be good ambassadors, and be able to represent Christ and His message in a pleasing and positive manner “without arousing hostility.”

Honestly, it seems that some people’s primary goal in life is to arouse hostility. They are not, in my opinion, good ambassadors for Christ.

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
YouVersion Bible reading plan
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, I pray that I might be a good ambassador for Christ, in my life. I pray that, as I engage in these daily times of worship and prayer, in my “secret place,” that I would shut out the things of the world, so I can wait on You alone, that You might reveal Yourself to me, fully. Or at least as fully as I can handle.

I also pray for the multitudes that call themselves by the name of Jesus that seem so set on creating hostility in their world. They are always angry about something, and are not, in my opinion, representing You and Christ well in this world. Again . . . I am open to the possibility that I am wrong, and will accept any correction You might send my way. But I pray for a people to rise up and vigorously represent You in this world, showing the world that You are a God who doesn’t hold a grudge, and that You delight in steadfast love.

Even so, please come soon, 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 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Today is Friday, the twenty-ninth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,514

21 days until S turns 29!

Yesterday’s high hit 102, just as predicted, making it our 33rd day of 100+ temps and thirteen consecutive days. It is predicted to be 101 today. There still has been no rain, now at 55 days.

The Texas Rangers managed a win, last night, and not only did they win, they shut out the LA Angels, 2-0. The pitchers only gave up five hits, in total. This makes the Rangers 44-54 for the season. They are still in third place in the AL West, twenty games out of first, and nine out of second. They are 8.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again tonight.

The Red Sox got a win, as well, beating the Guardians 4-2, to put them back at .500, with a 50-50 record. They are still in last place, though, in the AL East, a half game behind the somewhat surging Orioles. The Sox are seventeen out of first and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to be a few percentage points ahead of the Yankees, with a 66-32 record, for the best MLB record. The Nationals, now at 34-66, are holding down the cellar. There’s a three-way tie for the longest current win streak, at three games, with the New York Mets, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the (wait, what??) Oakland Athletics. The Giants finally won a game, so the Pittsburgh Pirates now have the longest current losing streak, at four games. The Yankees continue to have the best run differential (+197), but only by five runs. The Nationals still have the worst, at -160. The Rangers are back at +5, and the Red Sox slightly improved to -14. They’re still feeling the effect of that 28-5 loss to Toronto.

I’m off work today, as I am every Friday, and C is working from home, so we are all at home, which is quite nice.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we thank you for the love you show us so that we may be delivered from weakness and sickness, from sin and misery, and may be given strength to serve you, our Father in heaven. Bless us in all we have on our hearts, that through your mercy the battle of life may be fought aright. Bless us in our times and grant that justice may gain the upper hand and we may live in peace, praising you into all eternity. Protect us, your children, forevermore. May your name be honored, your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as in heaven. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
True, he died on the cross in weakness, but he lives by the power of God; and we who share his weakness shall by the power of God live with him in your service. 
(2 Corinthians 13:4 NEB)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the power of God, by which Christ lives, and in which we live
2. for the love of God, by which we are delivered from all weaknesses
3. for Jesus's question, asked twice in Mark 10, "What do you want me to do for you?"
4. that prayer is more than just talking to God and more than just a way to get things from Him
5. that confession can bring about positive change in our spiritual lives

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
(1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV, emphasis mine)

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16 NIV)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
(1 John 1:8-10 NIV)

The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
(Isaiah 58:11 NIV)

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.
(Psalms 92:12-13 NIV)

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
(Luke 8:15 NIV)

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
(Colossians 1:9-12 NIV)

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV)

One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
(Luke 11:1 NIV)

We all know the result of that request that Jesus’s disciples made. In both Matthew and Luke, we see that the result is what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”

He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'”
(Luke 11:2-4 NIV)

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'”
(Matthew 6:9-13 NIV)

There are a lot of other instructions surrounding that model prayer in Matthew’s Gospel, including that scary bit about forgiving others so that God will forgive us. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus continues with the passage that gives us “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

In spite of the fact that prayer is so simple that a child can do it, it is still something that we need to be taught; we have to learn the more intricate ways of prayer. It is much deeper than, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” or “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for our food.” It is deeper than asking God to “bless” everybody. There is certainly nothing wrong with those prayers, mind you.

Andrew Murray says that prayer is “the highest and holiest work to which anyone can rise. it is fellowship with the unseen and most Holy One.” And no one was better at that than Jesus. So the disciples were right on track to ask Him to teach them to pray.

“Through prayer, God has given to everyone the right to take hold of Him and His strength.” (Andrew Murray) And, we must realize, prayer is so much more than just a way to get stuff from God.

It is interesting the responses one gets when one asks for prayer requests. I do this every day on Facebook. “What can I pray for you today?” I would say that about half of the responses are not prayer requests at all, but simply information. “I have _______ surgery next month.” Okay, great. But what do you want me to pray? “We’re going on a trip next week.” Okay, but what do you want me to pray? God already knows you’re having surgery and going on a trip.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus and His interactions with people as He was on His way to one place or another is this one:

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.” “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.
(Mark 10:46-52 NIV, emphasis mine)

It’s actually interesting that Jesus asks this question twice in that chapter.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked.
(Mark 10:35-36 NIV, emphasis mine)

I love it when people actually tell me what they desire for me to pray, rather than just give me information. I mean, I can wing it, I can guess what they want me to pray, but I’d rather them say it, themselves. Because, in my opinion, a “prayer request” is actually a prayer, itself.

So, back to that word from Andrew Murray, about prayer being the “highest and holiest work.” If we consider it for all that it is, and not just a way to get things from God, we see that this is true. Because, even though Jesus asked that question, “What do you want me to do for you?” it is more than just that.

Prayer is more than us talking. I sometimes wonder if God ever feels like saying, “Would you shut up for a few seconds and let ME talk??” That is one of the points of the spiritual disciplines that employ silence. Silence, solitude, meditation, contemplation, all of these are tools that we can use to listen to God, rather than talk to Him.

Another piece of the prayer puzzle is confession. Now this is a tricky subject, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it. But I will say that I don’t believe we have to constantly be in fear that there is some unknown “unconfessed sin” that we have forgotten about that is going to keep our prayers from being heard. I have actually heard preachers say that “If you have unconfessed sin in your life, God won’t hear your prayers.”

As the fairy godmother in Cinderella said, “poppycock and twaddle.” (That’s the Rodgers & Hammerstein version.) I mean, we certainly cannot afford to play fast and loose with sin and confession, but I cannot for one second believe that our God is that petty and capricious. And what about that bit about how Jesus’s work on the Cross is supposed to have taken care of all of our sin, forever?

If it seems like this has rambled, I’m sorry. There is a theme, here, and it’s prayer, and learning it from Jesus. It is part of the process of cultivating a healthy spiritual life in Christ. God’s Word is also part of that. So just as a garden or farm cannot survive without proper cultivation, so our spiritual lives need time in prayer (including confession), and time in God’s Word. And, as discussed in a previous entry, those two both feed off of each other and support each other. Prayer prepares us for reading God’s Word, and God’s Word prepares us for prayer.

Today's sources:
Pray A Word A Day (confess)
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray

Father, thank You for the privilege and responsibility of prayer. How amazing that You even care enough to hear us! How wonderful that You, the Creator of the universe, bow down to listen to the words of Your creation! And, as Jesus’s disciples asked, I, too, am constantly asking, “Teach me to pray!” As much as I engage in the discipline, I know that there is so much I still need to learn, and depths to which I have barely begun to plunge.

I do pray for the strength to keep myself from being entangled in things of the world, in sin and selfishness. I do know that these things hinder prayer, but not so much because I might not confess them. After all, You know my heart and You know ever word that is going to come out of my mouth long before I say it. But when my heart holds on to sinful thoughts or feelings, that is when my prayers suffer. Because if I am counting something unworthy as being worth my attention, I am not paying attention to You.

Help me to constantly be thinking about Jesus’s words, “What do you want me to do for you?” It is possible that I don’t pray enough for or about myself. But at the same time, I want my prayers for myself to be more spiritual in nature than material or physical. In all things, may I constantly be aware of the sufficiency of Your grace. And may people be inspired to be more specific when they request prayer. May Your Spirit intervene in their own spirits, that they might tell me exactly what they want me to pray.

I continue praying for rain and relief from heat, not only in our area, but in the whole world, anywhere that is currently suffering from extreme heat and drought conditions. Have merch, Lord!

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!


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

Grace and peace, friends.

Stop the Fighting

Today is Friday, the twenty-second of July, 2022, in the sixteenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell in your hearts today!

Day 23,507

We didn’t get our below-100-day, yesterday, as our high was 102. Better than the previous few days, but still higher than we hoped. And there was no rain, at least not in our area, in spite of a 46% chance early in the day. I know that some areas did get some rain, but we didn’t. Today’s forecast shows our next chance of a two-digit high being a week from today, at 99. I’ve noticed, though, that these forecasts change multiple times during the day, so who knows?

C and I have gotten tickets to a musical show for Sunday afternoon. One of my library associates is in musical theater and has a part in a show called “Women on the Verge of A Nervous Breakdown.” We are looking forward to seeing her perform. There may be some other library folks there, but I’m not sure.

Not much on my plate for today, other than resting up for tomorrow’s eight-hour shift in circulation.

Oh. I almost forgot. The Rangers won their game with the Marlins, yesterday, 8-0. So, after one post-All-Star game, they are 42-49 on the season, in third place in the AL West. They are eight games behind Seattle, who is second, and eighteen behind the cheaters, who are in first. They are seven games out of the Wild Card race, which I do not expect them to make. While the team has great potential, they just still seem too mediocre for playoff contention. They begin a long run on the west coast tonight, in Oakland.

The Red Sox have their first game of the second half today, with the Blue Jays, at 7:10 EDT, in Boston. Hopefully, they can bounce back from the pounding they got from the Evil Empire. They are 48-45 on the season, in fourth place in the AL East, 15.5 out of first, and two out of the Wild Card race.

Normally, I would be happy that the Evil Empire lost a double-header, yesterday, but it was the cheaters who beat them, so . . .

The Washington Nationals have the worst MLB record, at 31-63. The Seattle Mariners carry a fourteen-game win streak into the second half, and the Miami Marlins are working on a four-game losing streak. The Nationals also have the worst run differential, at -149. The Rangers are at +7, and the Red Sox, after losing so badly to the Evil Empire, are at +18.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

If We Could Only, by Daryl Madden

If we could only feel
How much God loves us here
We would live our lives
Without any fear

If we could only sense
How much that we are blessed
We’d focus on His grace
Without worry or stress

If we could only see
His immense beauty
How grateful we would live
Our lives joyfully

If we could only know
What God does prepare
The impact we could make
Through His love to share

If we could only trust
Our view, be heavenly
Start living here right now
What waits eternally

God, I only know
Through Spirit you, endow
It is your great joy
Revealing them right now

Such truth and wisdom here. I wonder why it is so difficult for us to know these things. I feel like I do pretty good, some days, but there are others when my vision is cloudy. Lord, please keep my eyes open to see Your great love for us and Your marvelous grace and blessings toward us.

Please visit Daryl’s site at the link provided above.


Lord our God, we thank you that we may be your children and that we may hope in your Spirit. Your Spirit rules us as people whom you want to draw to yourself, as people who may serve you in their lives here on earth. Grant that we may be childlike, so that your Spirit can rule us more and more and what is good may come to many people in all places. May many come to know that their lives are not merely temporal. May they realize that they can live and act in you, and through you may experience the good that is to come to all nations on earth. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom 
(Luke 22:28–30a NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. that I may someday eat and drink at the table of the Lord in His Kingdom
2. that in Him, I live and move and have my being
3. that my faith is actually evidence of the reality of unseen things
4. that my enemy is not flesh and blood; I have no fight with any human
5. that I can live life without fear because of the knowledge of the love that God has for me

Here’s a verse I needed to read today.

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
(Ephesians 6:12 NLT)

I don’t care which “side” you’re on, politically or otherwise, if we can’t stop demonizing one another, not only is this nation doomed, but the “church” is going to see some drastic reduction in both membership and influence. The influence is already waning rapidly. People in the world are fed up with the hypocrisy they are seeing coming from “religious” leaders. The recent SBC scandal is “just another brick in the wall” that is being built between the church and the world.

Don’t misunderstand me. The true “Church” (capital C) is fine, and she will prevail. Jesus will see to that. And I will confess that I’m not terribly concerned about the nation. I’m more concerned about the church (small c) and the image that it doesn’t seem to care that it is portraying.

We are not each other’s enemies! While there is some truth to Pogo’s statement that “we have met the enemy and he is US,” that is simply a statement that says that we tend to be our own worst enemy. But this verse above speaks truth. People are not my enemies! Now I’m not one who goes around looking for a demon around every corner. I’m not obsessed with “spiritual warfare,” although I do acknowledge that it is a thing. But my enemy is not the person who believes differently than I. And if I believe differently than you, I am not your enemy! I certainly want what is best for this country and for the world. But I want what is best for everyone in it, not just the people who think like I do.

I am so fed up with all the hatred, ridicule, and mockery that I am seeing from all sides! It is so disheartening, and this morning, up until I read that verse that someone else highlighted on the YouVersion app, I was just about ready to quit, just give up. Our society has lost the ability to have rational discussion.

But I’m not giving up. I’m not quitting. I’m going to continue trying to obey those two commands.


The word for today, from Pray A Word A Day, is between.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
(Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

I really like the way the NLT puts this.

Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.
(Hebrews 11:1 NLT)

I like that they use the word “reality.” And perhaps I’ve never noticed this, but have you ever thought of “faith” as “evidence,” itself? Usually, we think of finding evidence for our faith. But the writer of Hebrews tells us that our faith is, in fact, evidence that these unseen things, this “reality” exists!

I’m going to have to chew on that one for a bit.

But back to this word, “between.” Many people are in a “between” time in their lives. Sometimes I think I might be, but I’m not sure what I’m between. Yes, I just retired, not quite a year ago (it was at the end of July, 2021). And maybe I’m still sussing out what is next. That’s right, it’s been a whole year, and I’m still working on that. I have this really cool job at the library to supplement my SS. Best job I’ve ever had, I can still say that. I love these people more than any with whom I have worked. There are possibly a few exceptions to that, but in general, it is true.

I do think that I might be close to a time when I stop just enjoying the fact that I don’t have to work forty hours a week, and have free time to do stuff around the house, cook meals, do laundry, and stuff like that.

So, yeah, maybe I’m between. And I’ve been seriously “between” before, like in 2010 when I was without a job for three months. That was slightly scary.

And it is in those between times where the reality of Hebrews 11:1 comes into play. There are some other verses that would be helpful in times like that.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
(Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT)

Trust in the LORD and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORD. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act.
(Psalms 37:3-7a NLT)


But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
(Acts 20:24 ESV)

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
(2 Corinthians 4:7-11 ESV)

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”
(Romans 15:18-21 ESV)

Up there is another answer to the disheartedness (I don’t think that’s a word) I was feeling this morning. And maybe, just maybe, if the rest of the church (small c) could have that same mind (which is, by the way, the mind of Christ, according to Philippians 2), things would look vastly different.

My life is worth nothing outside of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and my mission to proclaim it. Of course, there are a lot of different points of view as to what that means. The way I see it, the Gospel of Jesus is that the Kingdom of God is here, now, and available to anyone who desires to walk in it. And if we are walking in that Kingdom, following Jesus and His words, guess what.

We will love one another as Jesus has loved us.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' 
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
(Matthew 25:31-46 ESV)

Father, thank You for speaking to me, this morning. Thank You for that friend who highlighted that verse to get me started today. Thank You for reminding me that we are not fighting against flesh and blood. Well . . . we’re not supposed to be fighting against flesh and blood, which leads me to the next thing.

Please, Father, please! Intervene in Your Church and stop the infighting, and help us all to see that other humans are not our enemies. There are people from all political perspectives in Your Church, and we must unify under the umbrella of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and display the love that He has had for us, and the mercy and grace that You show us daily. Our real enemy must be having a heyday, right now.

Thank You for the faith that is evidence of things unseen. I thank You that You have all things worked out, already, that You have, even yet, prepared good works, beforehand, that I might walk in them. I pray that You guide me toward those works, that I might fulfill the purpose that You have for me. Just like Paul (no, I’m not really comparing myself to him), I believe that my life has no purpose or value outside of that Gospel (I see my roles as husband and father and worker to align with the Gospel), and that I have no “rights” outside of what I get from You.

Give us all the mind of Christ, Lord, that we might show the world what Your true Church is really supposed to look like.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


Everything comes from him; 
Everything happens through him; 
Everything ends up in him. 
Always glory! 
Always praise! 
Yes. Yes. Yes. 
(Romans 11:36 MSG)

Grace and peace, friends.