Today is Friday, the seventeenth of June, 2022, in the eleventh week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
Warning: This one is pretty long. Sorry.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Lord our God, we come into your presence and bow down before you, the Almighty. We come before you and repent, believing in you and in your will to save us. Your will to save goes out over the whole world, over the whole godless world, that all may repent and be redeemed. Grant us the thoughts of your heart so that we may begin to understand your will. We dedicate ourselves to you, the holy, just, righteous, and merciful God. Grant that we may be your children, led and guided by you every day. Turn our hearts to you so that you can make us more and more as you want us to be. Turn our hearts to you until your goal of atonement and redemption is reached through the quiet working of your almighty power. Amen. (Daily Prayer from Plough.com)
“The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
(Mark 1:15 NLT)
Today I am grateful:
1. for the will of God to save us and His mercy and grace in making it possible 2. for the Good News (Gospel) that the Kingdom of God is here 3. for 1984 (that year in my life, not George Orwell's book), one of the best years of my life 4. for the Lord's great mercy and blessing in my life; unexplainable and totally and utterly undeserved 5. for wonderful friends, brothers and sisters, that the Lord has placed in my life, through the years 6. for the music and artists that have inspired me and kept me on the path of life 7. that "God is so good, He's so good to me . . . there's never been anyone like You, You are worthy!" (Pat Barrett)
If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
(Mark 3:24-25 ESV)
Father, I pray desperately for the Body of Christ, Your Church, both in this nation and in this world, that we would be united under the authority of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. Heal our divisions that are over irrelevant politics and cause us to be focused on loving one another.
“Who am I, O Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
(2 Samuel 7:18 NLT)
While I realize this is King David speaking, I pray the same thing, today, Father. Who am I, what am I, that You have brought me this far? I do not pray for my “kingdom” to be expanded. I do not pray for riches or wealth, nor do I pray for fame or fortune. My humble prayer is that I might effectively spread the Gospel of Christ, that Your Kingdom is here, and that we must do better at loving one another in Your Name.
“How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you. We have never even heard of another God like you!”
(2 Samuel 7:22 NLT)
“For you are God, O Sovereign LORD. Your words are truth, and you have promised these good things to your servant. And now, may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you. For you have spoken, and when you grant a blessing to your servant, O Sovereign LORD, it is an eternal blessing!”
(2 Samuel 7:28-29 NLT)
Today’s prayer word, in Pray a Word a Day, is lead. (We are referring to the verb, not the element.)
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’
(Matthew 6:13 NIV)
I confess that I, probably like most people, when repeating the “Lord’s Prayer,” rush right through that phrase, many times without thinking. Either that, or focusing on the second half of that verse. “Deliver.”
What if there was a comma after “us?”
Full disclosure, here, I’m not making this up, it’s coming from the daily reading.
What if there was a pause after “us?”
When a shepherd leads the sheep, he sets the pace. He watches ahead for dangers or obstacles. He makes sure the sheep stay on the right path. It doesn’t take a genius to see where this is going.
Savior, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need Thy tender care; In Thy pleasant pastures feed us, For our use Thy folds prepare: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast bought us, Thine we are. We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, Be the guardian of our way; Keep Thy flock, from sin defend us, Seek us when we go astray: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Hear, O hear us when we pray. Thou hast promised to receive us, Poor and sinful though we be; Thou hast mercy to relieve us, Grace to cleanse, and pow'r to free: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to Thee; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Early let us turn to Thee. Early let us seek Thy favor, Early let us do Thy will; Blessed Lord and only Savior, With Thy love our bosoms fill: Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still; Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, Thou hast loved us, love us still. (Attributed to Dorothy A. Thrupp, 1836)
Yes, Father, lead us. I always thought it strange that most translations use the word “temptation” in that prayer. I do not believe any of us would ever think that You, our heavenly Father, would lead us into temptation! I can see that another acceptable word might be adversity, which would make more sense to me. One translation says, “keep us safe from ourselves” (MSG). But I like to envision Jesus, as my Shepherd, setting the pace, watching ahead for danger, and looking behind to make sure we stay on the path. He leads us, not into adversity or danger, but into safety and peace. Hallelujah! Lead us, O Lord!
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NLT)
I stumbled across this verse back in the early to mid eighties. I was going through one of the most difficult times of my life, and the Lord had brought a couple of people into my life, as well as some extremely important music albums. I started writing signs to myself and placing them in conspicuous places in the house, probably much to the confusion of my roommate at the time.
Two of those albums were Michael W. Smith’s second album, simply known as “2,” and Amy Grant’s “Straight Ahead.” In addition, a fellow trombone player in the seminary symphonic band introduced me to Daniel Amos, which changed my life forever, but that’s a story for another day.
One of the songs from the MWS album was called “I Am Up.”
I am up Like the sun is up I can feel my life on a rise I am up Like the stars at night I get up on bein' alive I am up Like the Lord is up And my life is filled with His life I was freed and I am saved I am up I am up
That’s the chorus. The last verse goes like this:
There are times life is so fine I can't contain it Everywhere I look I see what God had done And I don't have to work and worry to sustain it When I walk with God His joy will always come When I walk with God His joy will always come
Another important song was the title track of the Amy Grant album.
Day by day, dream by dream I fight to find the way to go Every day opens a different door Every dream shadows the one before But slowly I can see The way You've made for me Straight ahead, I can see Your light Straight ahead, through the dark Straight ahead, there's no left or right Straight ahead, to your heart Carry on through the night When the road is hard to find Lying lights tell me to turn around Lying thoughts tell me I'm lost not found But clearly I can see You're waiting there for me
Those two songs don’t seem much alike, do they? But I did mention that it was a very difficult time in my life. And, by His grace, I determined that, while 1983 was probably the worst year of my life, 1984 would be the best year (at least up to that point). And it was.
You might wonder what any of this has to do with Colossians 3:12. I’m getting there. In the middle of all of this, I found (or, perhaps it might be better to say that God planted it) that verse. I think the most modern version of the Bible we had back then was the NIV.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)
Since it uses the word “compassion” instead of “tenderhearted mercy,” one of the signs I put up said, simply, “PCKHG.” I pronounced that “puckhug.” Patience; Compassion; Kindness; Humility; Gentleness.
That sign was right by my front door, where I had to look at it every day when I left the house. It reminded me, then, and still reminds me (the verse, not the sign . . . it is long gone) today how I am to “dress” myself each day when I go out into the world.
I think it is safe to say that the world could use a lot more “PCKHGs.”
Oh . . . and the best thing that happened to me in 1984? December 7. First “date” with C, my wife of almost 37 years.
Father, You are so good. I look back up at that verse from 2 Samuel, from that prayer of David, and I can only shake my head in wonder at Your goodness and mercy. I am absolutely and utterly unworthy of the favor that You have shown me in my life. I deserve the opposite. Why on earth You never struck me dead on the spot, I cannot explain, other than to simply believe that there must be something left that You have for me to do on this earth.
Best I can figure, that “something” is to spread those PCKHGs around as much as I can. I thank You and praise You for the people who kept me sane and on Your path, back in those days. Some of them, I can’t remember their names. But I can remember most of their faces, and how they ministered to me. I praise You and thank You for those friendships. And I pray that, even this late in my life, I might be able to be that kind of friend to someone.
I am also so very grateful for the family that You have given me and placed me in. I have thanked You many times for that, and it can never be enough. Thank You for bringing my wife into my life in 1984, and for keeping us together all these years. It is You and only You that has accomplished that.
I don’t want to leave this place, this morning, Father. But I have things to do. I praise You for Your goodness. And like Pat Barrett said, “there’s never been anyone like You; You are worthy!” Only You are worthy of my worship and praise and adoration, Lord. And, while I must leave this room, I don’t have to leave You. Thank You for coming with me wherever I go. Help me to spread the love and mercy of Your Kingdom as I venture out into the world today.
Even so, Lord Jesus, come soon! Come and make everything right!
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
(Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)
Grace and peace, friends.