Wait; Hope; Be Still and Know

“If the word God or the experience of God is tribalized or nationalized or privatized, it is falsified. A packaged god is no god at all.”

Today is Holy Saturday, the sixteenth of April, 2022, in the sixth week of Lent.

May the peace of Christ flood your soul today.

Day 23,410

Yesterday certainly didn’t feel like a day off work for either of us. But it was a good day. We picked up C’s friend (that she used to work with) at 11:30, and headed over to Posada’s for lunch. We had a great lunch, along with some great conversation, mostly M and C catching up on things. Then we went to the funeral, which was a great celebration of a good man’s life. A couple of his family members gave a great eulogy of his life and their experiences with him. The family was huge. There were more family members there than non-family members.

I intended to compliment the pianist who played, but didn’t get a chance to. He was very good, and during the prelude to the funeral, he launched into a minor-key variation of “Rock of Ages” that was phenomenal!

After the funeral, we took M home, then went to Tom Thumb, nearby, because I had accidentally ordered the wrong kind of fruit for my fruit pizza that I was planning to make to take to work today. We bought some other stuff while we were there, including some flavors of Nick’s ice cream that we had never seen before. I wish our Albertson’s carried more of those flavors!

I made the fruit pizza, and while I was putting all that together, C made our regular pizzas for dinner. I did not attend the Good Friday service, as I had already decided while we were on our way home from the funeral. There was no way I could have done it, after everything else. We watched one episode of a British series called Vexed (we are in season 2 of 2). Then we watched the Rangers almost beat the Angels. I say “almost,” because at one point they were ahead 6-2, but then gave up 5 runs in the very next inning, and 2 more later, to lose 9-6. In Boston’s home opener, the Twins beat the Red Sox 8-4.

The Rangers play the Angels again today, at 6:05 CDT, with Taylor Hearn taking the mound. The Sox play the Twins again, at 4:10 EDT, with Tanner Houck taking the mound for Boston.

I will be working from 9:30-6:15 today. We will be gathering at our house church in the morning, and we need to pick up some supplies for the Supper so we can have communion together.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen."
(The Book of Common Prayer, Collect for Holy Saturday)

Know,” by Daryl Madden

I heard a soft whisper
Here, surrounding me
With peace in the quiet
Of simply to “be”

What should I do?
Surrender my will?
A comforting Word
Just simply “be still”

A rising desire
Of wisdom bestow
A simple lesson
“Be still and know”

What should I know?
To simply be awed
“Be still and know
That I am your God”

A prayer of perfection
This dialog shows
With patience and grace
His love overflows

I love this treatment of Psalm 46:10, one of my favorite verses. This my prayer, this morning, that, in all of my life, I could “be still and know.” Please support this poet by checking out his other poems at the link provided.

But those who wait upon GOD get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
(Isaiah 40:31 MSG)

Today I am grateful:

1. for the celebrations of life that this weekend brings
2. for Easter cookies
3. for hugs and the warmth that being loved can bring
4. for waiting, because it makes us trust in You while we are waiting
5. for the potential in my life to be stretched, as I look for new challenges, new people, and new experiences

The prayer word for today is “warmth.” The context appears to be that of being loved, and the need for human touch in our lives.

“The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.” ~ Oscar Wilde

The writer of the reading, Carolyn, speaks of her husband and his habit of hugging. I, too, am a hugger. I love giving hugs; I love receiving hugs. Hugs bring a warmth to one, that is almost indescribable. “For me,” says Carolyn, “warmth equates to love, contentment, and safety.”

I once felt as though I had received a hug from God. I will cherish that moment for all of my days, as I have never felt anything else like it.

(From Pray a Word a Day)

Father, may I not fail to give out warmth today, in the form of love and acceptance toward those around me. I pray that I might display Your great love toward others, as I walk through my day. Let them see it on my face; let them feel it radiating from me. And maybe there might be a hug or two, as well.

As his body was taken away, the women from Galilee followed and saw the tomb where his body was placed. Then they went home and prepared spices and ointments to anoint his body. But by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law.
(Luke 23:55-56 NLT)

There are some very wise words, in today’s Guideposts reading, written by Logan Eliasen. “Waiting means acknowledging events aren’t under our control.” That made me do a double-take. He’s right, you know. When you are waiting for something, you do not have control over that thing, at that moment in time.

Last night, I had to wait a couple of times. First, I had to wait while the cookie dough cooked (for my fruit pizza). Then I had to wait for it to cool, before I could spread the cream cheese mixture over it. During those times of waiting, there was nothing I could do to speed things up. Those events were completely and utterly out of my control.

But then, Logan brings it home. “But waiting doesn’t mean events are out of control.” (emphasis mine) “Because, ultimately, God is in control.”

So simple, so true, and so profound.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.
(Psalms 130:5-6 ESV)

The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:25 ESV)

(From Daily Guideposts 2022)

Father, help me to be a better “wait-er.” I don’t like waiting. Logan is right. It means that, while I’m waiting, I have no control over the thing for which I am waiting. Tom was also right. The waiting is the hardest part. I’ve waited for test results before. I remember struggle to sleep, while waiting on test results that would not be delivered in less than two weeks. That was excruciating, because I had no control over it; I had no control over the outcome. But, what I do have control over is my trust in You while I am waiting. Help me to trust in You when I have no control over things in my own life. Help me to only “worry” about things over which I have control, which is not much. I trust in You, Father. My times are in Your hands.

“If the word God or the experience of God is tribalized or nationalized or privatized, it is falsified. A packaged god is no god at all. This fact is not always easy to live with.”

Read that again. I will wait.

This is a serious issue, and the modern church (institution) in the USA is really struggling with this. Getting it to admit that struggle would be an entirely different thing.

“Our tendency, most of the time,” says Peterson, “is to reduce God to the dimensions of our lives and make him the custodian of our comforts. We get a piece of the gospel that makes us feel good, and we decide to specialize in that part, leaving out everything else.”

But if we want to be a “real church,” we can’t disregard others, as we like to do when we create our little like-minded groups and exclude others from them. (I’m stomping on my own toes, here, folks.)

“We have to reach out, letting our lives be stretched with new challenges, new people, and new experiences.”

(From On Living Well, by Eugene H. Peterson)

Father, I pray that You help us to not be guilty of reducing You and Your truth to the “dimensions of our lives.” I pray that we not be guilty of just hanging out with like-minded people and excluding others. I confess that this is very difficult. We get too comfortable, and we want to stay that way. Help me to stretch myself, as I walk in Your kingdom, and as I walk through this world. May the rest of this year be a benchmark year for me, Father. I am fully aware of what I am asking for. Well, maybe I’m not. Maybe I’m not aware at all, because I have no idea what is coming. But I am willing to wait for You and to watch for Your hand in my life as You move and act.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

As we move toward Resurrection Sunday, may we patiently wait for God, considering what the disciples endured during these couple of days that must have seemed like an eternity to them, having lost all hope. May we not lose hope; may we believe!

Grace and peace, friends.

Restore Us, O God

Today is Tuesday, the thirtieth of November, 2021. First Tuesday of Advent. Last day of November.

May God’s peace be with you, today.

Day 23,273

Twenty-five days until the twenty-fifth of December.

“On December five and twenty . . .”

I was rudely awakened, this morning, but the sound of things crashing and breaking. C came running out of the bathroom, and I jumped out of bed. I thought it came from the kitchen and had visions of broken dishes all over the floor. But then I looked in the study and this is what I saw.

Luna checks out the mayhem

At the top of the pic, you can see the shelf that fell off of the wall. My creepy clown frame was broken, but I saved the picture. The black box is a speaker, which is probably okay, although I haven’t tested it out, yet. The only other things on the shelves were some notebooks that contained family genealogy stuff and some music lyric charts. The bowling ball was not on the shelf. It was already on the floor.

We’ll probably work on getting the shelf back up this weekend. I don’t anticipate taking the time before then. It’s not an urgent matter.

I got details of arrangements for my uncle’s service, last night. The visitation will be tomorrow evening, from 5:00-7:00 PM. The service will be Thursday afternoon at 1:00 PM. So, at this point, the plan is to head to Henderson (everything will be happening at Rader Funeral Home) tomorrow afternoon, probably leaving around 2:00 PM. We have a room booked at a hotel that is just down the road from the funeral home. Then we will head back to Fort Worth Thursday evening, after the service. The only work I will miss is the extra shift that I had agreed to work on Thursday afternoon.

Mama will not be making the trip. Fortunately, everyone seems to be quite understanding, and my cousins were already not expecting to see her.

I’ve been asked to lead some worship music during the service, which will likely be an old hymn or something. I think it’s up to me to choose, actually. I told my cousin that I would be honored to do so.

We also just ordered flowers to be sent to the visitation.

I don’t really have any other news to share, this morning.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

At Ease, by S. Michaels (LightWriters)

We must
simply trust
and wait
 

©2021 S. Michaels
All Things Bright
(Haiku 2-3-2)

Please check out her other beautiful poetry at the above link.

And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God,
and the song of the Lamb, saying,
“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
(Revelation 15:3 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for Your great and amazing deeds, O Lord God Almighty
2. that Your ways are just and true
3. that we lack no spiritual gift as we wait for the return of our Savior
4. that You will keep us firm, standing firm until the end
5. that You, who have called us into fellowship with Your Son, are faithful

. . . men ought always to pray . . .
(Luke 18:1 KJV)

At dusk, dawn, and noon I sigh deep sighs—he hears, he rescues.
(Psalms 55:17 MSG)

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
(James 5:16 ESV)

It is not possible to overstate the value of prayer in our lives.

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 4:20-21 ESV)

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

FIRST WEEK OF ADVENT – DAY THREE

INVITATION

I wait for the LORD,
my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
(Psalms 130:5 ESV)

I pause during this quiet moment to consider the immense value of prayer and waiting. Truly it is in Him and His Word that I do hope.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Lilies of the Covenant.” Of Asaph. A psalm.

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might;
come and save us.

Restore us, O God;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:1-3 NIV)

Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, LORD God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved.
(Psalms 80:17-19 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:3-9 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I read these passages again, perhaps reading aloud, I look for ways that God’s Word has moved me, pondering and meditating on what has connected with my heart and soul. I pray these things to the Lord, lifting up my life to Him, and quietly enjoying His presence.

The Psalm is a simple prayer for revival, for restoration. “Restore us, O God; make Your face shine on us, that we may be saved,” he says, not once, but twice, in today’s selected passage. He actually says it again in verse 7, between the two groups of verses in today’s reading.

Who is “us?” For Asaph, “us” was Israel. If I am praying this prayer today, though, “us” could very well mean the Church. I don’t apply it to a nation, I don’t pray this for the USA. Doesn’t mean I don’t pray for my country and its leaders; I certainly do (albeit not enough, I will confess). But, as I’ve stated before in this blog, I do not believe that God deals with nations, in this era, as He did with Israel. If there is a “nation” to be considered, it is the “new Israel,” which is the Church.

So when I pray prayers for revival, I have the Church, the Bride of Christ, in mind, not a country. And I do pray for restoration/revival in the Church. May God restore us and make His face to shine upon us.

As we move through this Advent season, this is our hope, that we see Jesus, and that the face of our Father shines upon us. As the Corinthians passage tells us, we truly do not lack any spiritual gift, as we “eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”

But wait. Wasn’t He already revealed? What on earth is Paul talking about? As previously mentioned, this refers to the second coming, the return of Christ, as he comes back to restore everything to its rightful condition. This is one of the themes of Advent. We celebrate the first revelation, or coming, Jesus, but we also anticipate the second revelation, when He will return.

In the Corinthians passage, we also have this hope that He will keep us firm to the end. The reason for this is stated in verse 9 of 1 Corinthians 1.

God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
(1 Corinthians 1:9 NIV).

Yes, God is faithful, and if He has called us into this fellowship with His Son, He will keep us. This truth is stated multiple times in Scripture, in several different ways. But it is stated. Growing up Baptist, I used to hear it said, “Once saved, always saved.” Perhaps that is a bit overly simplistic; but it’s true. If I am saved, I am saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, through faith that is a gift from God. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. No man can snatch me out of His hands. My salvation is secure.

Period.

In this I rejoice, my Father! Thank You for the preservation of my soul in Christ. I thank You for Your faithfulness, even when I am not faithful. I thank You for Your great love for us, love that was exemplified in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I give You praise that You have confirmed Your testimony about Jesus in various ways throughout the history of Your people. I pray, alongside Asaph, for the restoration of Your Church. Revive is, O Lord, make Your face to shine upon us, that we may be saved. All glory and praise to You, through the Son and by the Spirit.

I pray for the consistent call to follow Jesus as disciples in this world. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Give us love for and commitment to the communities in which You have placed us.

"Everlasting God,
it's Advent once again.
We've eagerly waited for change,
but it appears little has happened.
Expand in me the great hope that one day I will be raised from this broken earth -
changed in the blink of an eye -
and that everything bent and bruised,
curdled and corrupted,
in me and this world,
will be transformed into lasting goodness,
righteousness,
and truth.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming soon.”
Amen.
Come, Lord Jesus!
The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
Amen.
(Revelation 22:20-21 ESV)

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

Restore us, O God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved!
(Psalms 80:7 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

Becoming

Today is Saturday, the twenty-fourth of April, 2021, in the third week of Easter.

Peace be with you!

Day 23,053

26 days until our next Glen Rose trip

I cannot adequately express the impact that yesterday morning’s devotional had on my day. So I’m not even going to try. I’ll just say that it was a good day, in spite of everything that work tried to throw at me.

As I settle in to begin today’s prayer time, there is almost a hesitancy. I can’t expect a repeat of yesterday, and I am trying not to expect that. But, then, there is always the possibility that it could be even better, which is hard to imagine, at the moment. So what I will do is head into it, as I always do, simply asking the Holy Spirit to lead the way.

Today is the sixth anniversary of my father’s funeral. I don’t expect to be down or depressed, though, as I was for a little while this past Tuesday. I will probably call and talk to my mother, today, though. We have a small surprise to tell her about. Just something we decided to do. I won’t mention it here until we’ve talked.

We have our WW Workshop this morning at 10:30. I might lose a pound since my last weigh-in. After that, I’ll drop C off at home, as she has work stuff going on. Their (the United States Bowling Congress) two biggest tournaments kick off this weekend and next weekend, and they have been furiously working on some new programs/apps to accommodate safety protocols. She was working well into the night, last night, and things are going pretty well, so that’s good. Today’s meeting will be about things that need to get set up for next weekend’s kick-off of the Open Championship, a huge tournament in Vegas that goes on for several months. She might actually wind up having to fly to Vegas next Friday. She will be going in June to bowl with a USBC team.

We tried something new this weekend, and ordered our grocery pickup from Albertson’s. Primarily this was because they are the only local store that carries our new favorite low-cal ice cream, Nick’s. Seriously, this stuff is amazing. Anyway, I’ll be picking that up sometime after 11:00 AM, but I’ll drop C off at home, first. The rest of the day is wide open.

I also want to plug a new artist I have found, thanks to the True Tunes podcast. Her name is Ella Mine, and her debut album is called Dream War. It is pretty phenomenal, and available on Spotify, as well as Apple Music and Soundcloud.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

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)

Sing out your thanks to the LORD; sing praises to our God with a harp.
(Psalms 147:7 NLT)

Today I am grateful:

  • for Your constant presence in my life, even when I don’t realize or acknowledge it
  • that, while the Old Testament sacrifices merely covered sins, the blood of Jesus has washed ours away, eradicating them, literally changing our past
  • for the Holy Spirit’s role in helping me listen to what God is saying to me
  • once again, for Your holy embrace
  • that I am becoming more like Jesus every day (this is to His credit, not mine)

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

EASTER – DAY 21

INVITATION

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 NIV)

I quietly pause for a moment to reflect on the day, and give thanks for the blessings in my life, the most prominent being my amazing salvation in Jesus Christ.

BIBLE SONG

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

You, LORD, showed favor to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath and turned from your fierce anger.

Restore us again, God our Savior, and put away your displeasure toward us.
Will you be angry with us forever?
Will you prolong your anger through all generations? Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?
Show us your unfailing love, LORD, and grant us your salvation.
I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants— but let them not turn to folly.
Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.
(Psalms 85:1-9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous.
(1 John 3:1-7 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I enjoy the presence of the Lord, this morning, I read these passages again, lingering to allow the Holy Spirit to draw me into a word or phrase.

I am first drawn to verse 2 of Psalm 85. Note the use of the word “covered.” In the Old Testament, the blood of the sacrifices only covered the sins of Israel. They were forgiven, but they were still there. What is significant, and has been addressed in this forum, previously, is that, in Christ, our sins are removed! They are eradicated; our past is, effectively, changed!

Then, I am drawn to verse 8. “I will listen to what God the LORD says.”

We, as human beings, at least in Western culture, have grown quite terrible at listening. When we are in conversation, we spend more energy preparing what we are going to say next than in listening to what the other is saying. Media gets blamed for a lot of our ills, and probably deserves a lot of it. Our attention spans grow shorter and shorter. Have you noticed, lately, the average length of a TV commercial? I’m guessing ten to fifteen seconds. Unless it’s for pharmaceuticals, which seem to last thirty seconds to a minute.

We don’t listen any more. I am trying to reacquaint myself with this lost art. Part of this retraining is listening to a Bible chapter every morning on my drive to work. Even in that, I struggle to maintain focus. Thoughts worm their way into my head and distract me, and, before I know it, the reading is done and I have no idea what it said.

I’m also retraining myself in listening to music. The above mentioned podcast, True Tunes, has a catch phrase. They want to help us “listen to better music, and listen to music better.”

Back to the topic at hand. “I will listen to what God the LORD says.” Elsewhere in Scripture, I believe it’s Luke chapter 9, a voice is heard from heaven that says, “This is my Son; my Chosen One; listen to him!” (ESV)

For the most part, the way we listen to God is through reading His Word. Which, of course, sounds ridiculous. How do you “listen” by “reading?” We listen with our ears, not our eyes!

I believe we have “spiritual ears” as well as physical ears. I can “listen” to something without hearing a sound. This is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit. He “speaks” to me; I believe He spoke to me yesterday, but I did not physically hear a sound. I felt plenty, though, and this morning, I can say that I feel, as well, His presence in this place.

So, I will listen to what God says by reading His Word and allowing His Spirit to draw me into the passages I read. This is what I’m doing every morning, as I reread the passages at hand. This practice, while I am far from expert at it, is called Lectio Divina, “sacred reading.”

As I move on into the passage from 1 John, the Spirit draws me toward verse 2. I think that this has not stood out to me before today, which is one of the beautiful things about God’s Word, which is always alive and active.

The phrase says, “what we will be has not yet been made known.” It’s a mystery. I know that I am becoming . . . but what I am becoming remains a mystery to me. We do know, John continues, though, that “when Christ appears, we shall be like him.”

This is so exciting! As I experience my longing, more and more, for Home, I also can find that I am longing to really see my Savior. When I get Home, I will “see him as he is.” And in that true sight, I will then know, truly, who and what I am.

Dallas Willard once said “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity.”

I believe this to be true, largely because who I become will have a direct impact on what I do. So, as I continue to become like Him, I will act more and more like Him. I sense that this is true in my life. There are changes that have been occurring in my self, over the past few years. Unfortunately, I still act a lot like me, but I’m finding that some of my character traits are softening around the edges a bit, and I really believe that I am becoming more like Jesus, every day.

What a sense of peace and joy this brings. And yes, I’m feeling that embrace again.

And look at verse 5! Exactly what I wrote about up there! “But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins.” Not “cover!” “Take away!”

Praise His holy name!

Father, I love You as much as I know how. And You, on a daily basis, are teaching me how even more, so each day, I have the capacity to love You more. I praise You for what You are doing in my life right now. I sense that You are leading me somewhere, and just as John said, I’m not quite sure where You are taking me. But this I know . . . if You are leading me there, I want to go. Pure and simple. I want to be where You are, and I want to be where You want me to be.

Thank You for taking away my sins; not just covering them up. Thank You for changing my past. Help me to reflect on this truth and be aware that the sins of my past are not just forgiven . . . they are GONE! I look forward to the day when what I will be will be revealed, and I look forward to seeing the face of the One who, by His sacrifice, has taken away my sins.

Hallelujah!

Father,
it is a wonder what you have made of me in Jesus.
It's the hope I cling to today,
the comfort that satisfies my heart.
I am a dearly loved child of God.
I am not my own but belong to Jesus Christ,
body and soul,
in life and in death.
I am rescued at great cost,
protected and provided for,
guarded and guided.
How great is your lavish love.
Amen.
(Heidelberg Catechism, 1)

BLESSING

Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.
(Ephesians 6:24 NIV)

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
(Psalms 51:10 ESV)

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(1 Corinthians 13:12 ESV)

Here, again, is more affirmation that, even though I cannot now know what I am becoming, the mirror will be cleared up when I see Him face to face.

You shall be holy to me, for I the LORD am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.
(Leviticus 20:26 ESV)

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.
(1 Peter 2:9-12 ESV)

Father, while it is true that I do not yet know what or who I will become, this I do know, that I am called to be holy, as You are holy. Help me to live in this truth and to resist the evil influences of our time. We don’t all agree on which influences are “evil,” that is apparent. But help me to not place any faith and trust in humans, but only in You, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You alone are worthy of honor and glory, of worship and praise. I will not give these things to any lesser “gods.” All glory to You!

Lord, I pray, this morning, that Your Church would work for the common good and benefit of all people, being quick and willing to meet needs wherever possible. May all people be able to experience care, love, and community within Your Church. I lift up all who are involved in “Christian” education; in schools, colleges, and seminaries. May Your truth be faithfully taught in all of their halls.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.

Created For A Purpose

Today is Wednesday, December 16, 2020, in the third week of Advent.

Peace be with you.

Day 22,924

Nine days until Christmas!

In what must be the strangest week of the year, so far, I am back to work, this morning, only to be off, once again, tomorrow and Friday. Yesterday, I did not go to work, as we celebrated the life of C’s step-brother.

It was an interesting day for me. Emotionally/mentally, I began struggling on the trip to the funeral home. However, I recognized what was happening, and managed to stave it off. It would have been really ugly had I remained in that state of mind through a funeral.

There were moments in the funeral where I teared up, for sure. However, I can’t say that any of those moments were for the step-brother. Don’t get me wrong, we loved him, and we are sad to lose him, and most definitely sad for his wife and kids.

But one of those teary moments happened early on, as they played a number of recorded songs throughout the proceedings. The first was “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me, a very appropriate song for a funeral. I wept a little as I worshiped through that song. The second song was some country song I didn’t recognize. But the third song! “I Will Rise,” by Chris Tomlin. Again, I worshiped, deeply, through that song, and the tears flowed.

And what this made me realize is how much I miss worship. It has been way too long since I was able to simply sit and worship like I did yesterday afternoon. I don’t know what the answer/response is to this, though.

Later, they played another Mercy Me song, “Homesick,” which the front man wrote about missing his father. Actually, according to wikipedia, it was written when the band experienced the loss of nine different people close to them, in a short period of time. At any rate, anyone who knows me can guess where my spirit and heart went during that song. Those tears were for my own father, lost five and a half years ago.

Over all, it was a good experience, as many memories were shared by family members. Two daughters spoke, a son sang a song, and his wife sang a song, as well. I have no idea how either one of them made it through their songs.

We were exhausted afterward, and went to bed quite early last night. But I have to say that it was a pretty good day. Oh, and S went with us! She discovered that she could wear the facemasks made by WW. They are built with a little more space in them, making it easier to breathe. S did very well. But she reached her limit, so we did not try to attend the graveside service.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Open, Lord, my eyes that I may see.
Open, Lord, my ears that I may hear.
Open, Lord, my heart and my mind that I may understand.
So shall I turn to You and be healed."
(Traditional)

Scriptures and Prayers from The Divine Hours

Psalms 145:21 ESV
(21) My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.

Today I am grateful:

  1. For life and breath; grateful to be alive and breathing, this morning
  2. For my family, and the love shared among us
  3. For Your steadfast love that reaches to the heavens (Psalm 36:5)
  4. For creating me “just as I am”; may I honor that within me today
  5. That I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139)
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Psalms 36:5 ESV
(5) Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

Psalms 145:1 ESV
(1) I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.

John 19:25-27 ESV
(25) but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.
(26) When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!”
(27) Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Psalms 138:1-8 ESV
(1) Of David.
I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
(2) I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
(3) On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.
(4) All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth,
(5) and they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.
(6) For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
(7) Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand delivers me.
(8) The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Psalms 70:1 ESV
(1) Make haste, O God, to deliver me! O LORD, make haste to help me!

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

"Stir up your power, O Lord,
and with great might come among us;
and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins,
let your bountiful grace and mercy
speedily help and deliver us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory now and for ever.
Amen."
(The Divine Hours, The Prayer Appointed for the Week)

Advent: Prepare For The Coming Of The Word

Day Eighteen

Isaiah 7:10-14 ESV
(10) Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,
(11) “Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.”
(12) But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test.”
(13) And he said, “Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?
(14) Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Luke 1:26-38 ESV
(26) In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
(27) to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
(28) And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
(29) But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
(30) And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
(31) And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
(32) He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
(33) and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

(34) And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

(35) And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
(36) And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
(37) For nothing will be impossible with God.”
(38) And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Hebrews 1:1-9 ESV
(1) Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,
(2) but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
(3) He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
(4) having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

(5) For to which of the angels did God ever say,
“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”?
Or again,
“I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son”?
(6) And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says,
“Let all God’s angels worship him.”

(7) Of the angels he says,
“He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.”

(8) But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom.
(9) You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Ephesians 2:10 ESV
(10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

“We would be so much more at peace if we simply accepted how God made us and tried to be the best ‘us’ we could be.” (Erika Bentsen, Daily Guideposts 2020)

Deuteronomy 14:2 ESV
(2) For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.

1 Peter 2:9 ESV
(9) But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

Psalms 139:13-24 ESV
(13) For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
(14) I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
(15) My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
(16) Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
(17) How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
(18) If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
(19) Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! O men of blood, depart from me!
(20) They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain.
(21) Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
(22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.
(23) Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!
(24) And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!

There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head, right now, but I’ll filter it down to this: Once again, the Holy Spirit has brought together passages from totally independent sources that fit together like fingers in a glove.

God has created me, “just as I am.” I find that I am strangely satisfied, in this. That does not contradict, I believe, my current need for therapy. Yes, therapy/counseling is an attempt to change something in me that I am not fond of. But it is something negative; feelings, emotions that I don’t believe are honoring to my Creator; things which result from the effects of sin in my life.

There are characteristics that I have that God gave me, that do not need to be changed. I need not worry about physical appearance. The reason I am losing weight is not so much about physical appearance as it is health and how the extra weight prohibits activities that I want to do.

I don’t need to be taller or shorter. I don’t need to rub hair restorer on my balding head. I don’t need to have talents that God did not give me. I need to be satisfied with how God created me.

Why?

Because, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

I was created for a purpose. You were created for a purpose. We may not have quite figured that out, yet, but you know what?

That doesn’t matter! You don’t have to know your purpose in order to fulfill it! If we simply go about our daily lives, doing what God puts in front of us to do, no matter how “mundane” it may seem, we just might be fulfilling that purpose, and not even realize it.

Just some simple words of wisdom for the day. Go out there (or stay in, depending on your circumstances), and do what God gives you to do, and, in doing so, honor Him with all your being.

Father, I praise You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, that You created my inmost being, forming me while still in my mother’s womb. I will honor that today, doing my best to be the best “me” I can be. And, as Oscar Wilde once said, I need to be myself, because everyone else is taken. Help me to honor You today, by faithfully doing whatever You put in front of me to do. Give me the wisdom to know what that is. But also remind me that I don’t necessarily have to understand my purpose in order to accomplish it.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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

Grace and peace, friends.